Racing: Twist in Turnell scheme

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The Independent Online
THE OPTIMUM distance for Katabatic is still unclear after his seasonal debut success at Ascot yesterday, but at least the direction of his future assaults has been sorted out, writes Richard Edmondson.

Andy Turnell, the gelding's trainer, had believed his horse's aversion to right-handed courses had disappeared. Yesterday's performance at the final fence, which he crossed almost sideways, will have exploded that notion.

'We got away with it this time, but he's so much happier going left-handed,' Simon McNeill, Katabatic's jockey, confirmed.

The horse's programme this season will be governed by the movements of Remittance Man, who captured the nine-year-old's Champion Chase crown at the Cheltenham Festival last March. If Remittance Man, who reappears today at Wincanton, is campaigned over three miles, then Katabatic might stay over two, the distance of yesterday's race.

Turnell accepts, however, that Katabatic will have to be stepped up in distance at some stage. 'We know he's brilliant at two miles, but there is no race like the Cheltenham Gold Cup - and I want to keep all options open,' he said.

Pat Murphy, whose training career has been launched in less than cheerful circumstances, scored with his first ever runner, Belafonte, at the Berkshire course.

Murphy took over the reins of the Portbury stable of Richard Holder, his father-in-law, yesterday as Holder remains seriously ill in Bristol's Southmead Hospital following a brain operation.

'I just can't believe it, a winner with my first runner,' Murphy said. 'Before yesterday the stable had gone six weeks without a winner. Then, at Chepstow, Sir Joey, the last horse to run under Richard's name, was successful. Richard is conscious, but remains very ill.'

Yesterday's results, page 37