Kalahari King finds oasis on Redcar beach

Trainer Murphy hopes tide has turned in battle to get chaser ready for Festival

The beach at Redcar, already depicted as Dunkirk by the makers of Atonement, has recently become the setting for another heroic rearguard action. In the case of Ferdy Murphy and Kalahari King, however, the encircling forces have been the weather, and time.

Kalahari King, beaten in a photo at the Cheltenham Festival as a novice, returns next month as the North's leading candidate for the Queen Mother Champion Chase. But he has yet to run this season and owes any prospect of taking up his comeback engagement at Doncaster on Saturday entirely to the strand at Redcar.

"He'd have been all right except for the bloody weather," Murphy said yesterday. "But we caught it bad up here. We had 16 inches of snow for two and a half weeks, and then we had rain on top so we went from snow-bound to flooded. It's a 50-mile round trip to Redcar but he made 14 trips there during that three-week period."

Murphy's stable jockey, Graham Lee, will school Kalahari King this morning and the two men will then decide whether the horse is ready to go to Doncaster or would benefit from another week.

"You couldn't work a horse on the beach," Murphy said. "But you could hack him – you could hack him for seven miles. It's not really the kind of thing you'd want to be doing with a Champion Chase contender. The first morning we got him back on the gallops he was very stuffy and an ordinary horse found him out. The next day he worked with a good one and worked all over him; and then he worked better than a six-furlong horse. But he still had a real blow after that."

The Blue Square Handicap Chase looks a sensible target for Kalahari King, who would only need to run creditably under a big weight to keep his Festival hopes alive.

"Graham will put him over 10 fences in the morning," Murphy said. "And if he's not happy we can always wait for the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury the following week. It would be a different kind of race, but the only problem I'd have with it would be the ground – it was horrible down there last Friday."

Murphy has a fine Festival record, and brought Kalahari King expertly to the boil for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy last year. But his task has been complicated this time round, first by an infection just before a scheduled resumption at Kelso, and then by a splint. "The lad who rides him every day said that he just wasn't moving right," Murphy said. "We had him X-rayed and scanned, and found nothing. But then a few days later, lo and behold, up came a splint."

The favourite for this year's Arkle, Captain Cee Bee, heads to Naas on Saturday for his final rehearsal – just one vignette in what should prove a really instructive weekend either side of the Irish Sea. Dunguib, the outstanding novice hurdler, will be among those in action at Leopardstown the following day, while Punchestowns and Binocular will begin a crucial 10 days or so for their trainer, Nicky Henderson, at Sandown on Saturday.

Sadly, all this excitement will be lost on Noel Fehily who aggravated an old shoulder injury in a fall at Cheltenham on Saturday and paid a dispiriting visit to a specialist yesterday. He was told that he may need surgery and must reconcile himself to missing both Cheltenham and Aintree.

After the loss of yesterday's jumping to frost, milder conditions should ensure some decent sport today, not least at Taunton where Cappa Bleu, champion hunter last season, resurfaces in a novice hurdle after an exasperating start for his new trainer in the autumn. "He needs to get his confidence back and, hopefully, a nice clear round will help him enjoy the job again," Evan Williams said.

"It's a good thing he can run in races likes this. He won the Foxhunter after only a handful of point-to-points, he then ran in a novice chase over the wrong trip, on the wrong track, and ran in the Hennessy where his inexperience came to light. He had a fair old slap there, and basically we just wanted to start again, really."

Turf account: Chris McGrath

Nap

Babe Heffron (4.10 Taunton) Probably set off too fast last time but confirmed his improvement by rallying gamely between two who had closed from off the pace. The one he beat off into third has won since, and this step back up in trip is sure to suit.

Next best

Pistolet Dove (3.50 Folkestone) Having hinted at better to come in a light career over hurdles, he duly proved well treated when switched to fences at Leicester last month. His strong finish that day suggests he will respond positively to Tony McCoy.

One to watch

Hopeful Star (Jonjo O'Neill) Had shown promise in qualifying for a rating and showed due improvement when stepped up in trip for his handicap debut at Ffos Las last week.

Where the money's going

Cooldine, so disappointing on his comeback, is obviously expected to do better in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday – now 5-2 from 7-2 with William Hill.

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

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor