Racing: Reconditioned Le Roi Miguel to foil Bleu's record attempt

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A Gold Cup winner yesterday, a Grand National winner tomorrow, and in between, one of the most remarkable horses in training. If you are not stimulated by the weekend's events then perhaps you are reading the wrong page, and should consider a subscription to Basket Weaving Monthly.

A Gold Cup winner yesterday, a Grand National winner tomorrow, and in between, one of the most remarkable horses in training. If you are not stimulated by the weekend's events then perhaps you are reading the wrong page, and should consider a subscription to Basket Weaving Monthly.

Best Mate's best mate Edredon Bleu, who will be a technical teenager in 42 days' time and an actual one on 26 April (like the Queen, thoroughbreds have two birthdays, an official one on 1 January and their real one), is the star turn at Huntingdon, where he will be trying to record his fifth victory in the Peterborough Chase. And should he succeed, he will set a modern-day record. Several horses have, like him, won four editions of the same Graded contest - Desert Orchid won four King Georges, Florida Pearl four Hennessys at Leopardstown, Istabraq four Irish Champion Hurdles and four December Hurdles, Morley Street four Aintree Hurdles and Dorans Pride four Morris Oil Chases at Clonmel - but none has taken five.

Edredon Bleu won the Grade 2 race, over an extended two and a half miles, from 1998-2001. His two most recent wins in Cambridgeshire came on his seasonal debut; the first two after a warm-up defeat in the Haldon Gold Cup, the scenario under which he goes into today's fray. That run at Exeter behind Azertyuiop was his first defeat for 19 months, but he can be readily excused it on ground that was far too soft, and runner-up Seebald did not exactly devalue the form in Devon yesterday.

But anni domini must begin to catch up with this splendid horse, winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase four years ago and the King George VI Chase last term. It may do so today in the shape of a horse precisely half his age, Le Roi Miguel (3.00). This French-bred was one of the best of the novices during the 2002-03 campaign, with hugely impressive victories at the top level at Aintree and Punchestown, but lost his way last season, compromised by a breathing problem. He has had corrective surgery during the close season and had a satisfactory prep for this over hurdles three weeks ago. Hand Inn Hand is an obvious threat, but a chance is taken that Le Roi Miguel's reconditioned carburettor allows him to express his full potential.

At Aintree, today's feature over the Grand National fences is The Grand Sefton Chase, revived last year after an interval of 38 years. Owner Trevor Hemmings has made no secret over the years that it is his prime racing ambition to win the National and one of his latest batch of young pretenders, Tipsy Mouse (2.20), has his first test-drive over the unique fences today. The eight-year-old progressed rapidly from novice to handicap ranks last season and his run at Carlisle last month will have blown the cobwebs away.

There is a hot two-mile novice chase earlier on today's card which brings together two touted to take high rank in the division. Chivalry, making his fencing debut, won the Cambridgeshire Handicap on the Flat last year and took well enough to hurdles, winning three of four. But preference is for Chauvinist (1.20), good enough to run third in the Supreme Novices over the smaller obstacles. The horse who was second that day, Atum Re (1.35), recorded several other good efforts against the best of the first-season brigade and can make amends at Windsor for an early unseat at Aintree a month ago.

* Frost is threatening today's cards at Huntingdon and Aintree and both courses will hold 7am inspections. Temperatures were set to dip below freezing last night and the Huntingdon clerk of the course, Fiona Needham, said yesterday: "The forecast is to be minus three tonight, so we thought it best to call a precautionary inspection."

Comments