Racing: Knight's Demon can mark Mate's anniversary

If this is a day fraught with feelings for Henrietta Knight, they will be in the present, not the past. A year ago at Exeter the much-lamented Best Mate collapsed and died and although the fact of her running two horses in the Grade Two contest in which he met his end - Impek, in the same famous claret and blue colours, and rising star Racing Demon - has a certain poignancy, no welling emotion will be involved.

"The public who loved him, the fan club, may feel it," she said yesterday, "but not me. Anyone who works with horses knows these things happen. You can't dwell on them. I'm glad we had him and you remember the good times with pleasure. But at Exeter we'll be looking forward, not back."

Racing Demon will be running for the first time since disappointing as favourite for the Arkle Trophy. But his is the talent that kept minds at West Lockinge focused forward, right from the moment he announced his burgeoning talent in the race immediately after the terrible, fatal one. The six-year-old, having swerved a meeting with Monet's Garden at Carlisle on Sunday, makes his eagerly awaited seasonal debut in the race now known as the William Hill Gold Cup.

Knight admitted that in an ideal world she would not be running both her chasers in the same contest, especially off the top two places in the handicap and over a distance probably too short - two miles and an extended furlong - for both to boot. "There's no other real alternative, the way the programme book is framed," she said. "I was even thinking of a hurdle race for Racing Demon, but I couldn't find one of those either.

"But we've got to start somewhere and we're looking forward to getting them out. They're in good form but will come on for the run."

Knight has won three of the last five runnings of the race, two with Edredon Bleu and before him with Best Mate, who launched his second fencing season in it. Partly due to his own ability and partly because of the waiting vacuum, Racing Demon was rather hyped as the natural successor to the late, great one, but it is a comparison that Knight is keen to play down.

"We'll try to keep that low key, especially on this occasion," she said. "He'll be better over further and though he has won at Exeter and the ground will be OK, a bit softer might have suited us better because it might have slowed the faster, lower weights down a bit."

Impek has the Peterborough Chase, which he won last year, at Huntingdon in 18 days' time, as his next target, and Racing Demon is being aimed at Sandown's Future Stars Chase at the start of December. Last season the son of Old Vic, who today is ridden by Graham Lee for the first time in public, was likened to a hyperactive schoolboy in temperament, but Knight reports that he has matured in mind as well as body. "I think he's growing up," she said.

The spotlight will, because of circumstances, be on the Knight pair, but interest extends well through the rest of the field, which includes Dempsey, brought down early in last year's Champion Chase, and two of last season's smartest novices, Hoo La Baloo and Chilling Place.

Today, the race won last year by Racing Demon marks the fencing debut of one of this term's most exciting recruits, Denman. The six-year-old was beaten over hurdles only once, by Nicanor in the Royal & SunAlliance, last season and trainer Paul Nicholls is another havering over today's distance. "It's probably a trip short of his best," he said, "but he's going nicely, has schooled well and we're looking forward to it."

The 11-strong first wave of European challengers for Saturday's Breeders' Cup arrived safely in Kentucky yesterday, with the five from Ballydoyle, including George Washington, due in today.

Ouija Board, trying to regain the Filly & Mare Turf she won in 2004 and lost so narrowly last year, was first into quarantine at Churchill Downs after a smooth trip to Louisville. Robin Trevor-Jones, the head groom who has as many air miles as the Ed Dunlop-trained mare, reported his charge her usual unfazed traveller.

"Same old story," he said. "Everything has gone great. She was on her own in the van at the head of the convoy and is like the queen waiting to take back her crown. She's drunk up well, exercised in the barn and, all being well, will soon be out on the track.

"I've been on to the course and it's quick, just like when she won the Hong Kong Vase, two Oaks and a Nassau Stakes. It's just perfect for her."

Chris McGrath

Nap: Viewforth (Catterick 3.30)

NB: Musical Script (Wolverhampton 6.20)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future