Kasbah Bliss proves he is World class

An effortless performance at Haydock makes Doumen's star hurdler a banker bet for the Cheltenham Festival

Of all the various trials and tests for the Cheltenham Festival conducted yesterday no performance was more impressive than that by Kasbah Bliss at Haydock. Indeed, it would be hard to argue that any horse this season has laid down quite such ineluctable a set of championship credentials. After his eight-length cruise, the French-trained gelding is now as short as 11-10 for the World Hurdle, and it seems the word "banker" can, after all, be uttered without the risk of opprobrium.

Kasbah Bliss ran the now-retiredInglis Drever to a length for the stayers' crown 11 months ago, but his hurdling powder had remained dry after a Flat campaign that ended with a close fourth in the Prix du Cadran on Arc weekend. Yesterday was his first sight of obstacles in public since last March, on ground thought to be much softer than ideal, but those who backed him to odds-on had not a moment's concern.

A confident Christophe Pieux kept Kasbah Bliss at the back, tracking his chief market rival, Duc De Regniere. On the turn in, the trailblazing Hills Of Aran threatened to slip his field, but Pieux knew exactly what gears he had left, easing through some of them to join the leader at the last hurdle and sprint insouciantly away.

The effortless acceleration produced by Kasbah Bliss, under the care of François Doumen in Lower Normandy, is rare in a marathon type. The seven-year-old's improved Flat form indicates his upward mobility and, given that he will be even bettersuited by the faster ground and stronger pace he will surely encounter at Cheltenham, he looks highly likelyto follow the hoofprints of his brilliant former stablemate Baracouda.

As well as shortening Kasbah Bliss most bookmakers extended their prices for his market rivals, Punch-estowns and Big Buck's. Doumen said: "After Christophe got off he said he was far better than last year. He seems to handle soft ground better as he has got older and stronger, and even if it was soft at Cheltenham, while respecting the opposition and particularly Punchestowns, it will take a good one to beat him."

One of Voy Por Ustedes's misfortunes is to be a high-class horse racingin the same era as two slightly better ones, Kauto Star and Master Minded, but the eight-year-old has kept himself comfortably in oats and hay and yesterday notched his 13th victory, and his fourth at Grade One level, taking his earnings to over £800,000. The gelding outclassed his three rivalsin every department to take the Ascot Chase, jumping boldly and confidentlyfor Robert Thornton to power 14 lengths clear of Gwanako in the straight. His positive demeanour was in contrast to that of his trainer, Alan King, who had been self-confessedly walking his box in the build-up.

"It's been a tough couple of weeks," he said, "with the snow at home and not being able to work the horses properly, and wondering about the soft ground. The confidence was beginning to waver and thank goodness we talked ourselves round into running.

"We almost stayed at home, but he needed a run before Cheltenham and this was a nice prize to go for. He's the sort who maybe doesn't need as much work as some of the others, so we got away with it. But it is all a relief."

Voy Por Ustedes has been outsped by Master Minded over two miles and outstayed by Kauto Star over three, and is now favourite for the Ryanair Chase, like yesterday's contest over the intermediate distance. "We'll leave him in the Champion Chase just in case," added King, "but if Master Minded turns up there we'll be taking the Ryanair route."

An hour after the admirable Lough Derg failed by an on-the-nod head to concede 16lb to Serabad at Ascot, his David Pipe stablemate Ashkazar booked his place in the Champion Hurdle field by out-toughing Whiteoak and Punjabi in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton. Ashkazar, whose yard also houses the Champion Hurdle second favourite, Osana, flopped on his seasonal debut in December but is now 12-1 for the Festival's hurdling showpiece. "This was what we were expecting the last day," said his rider, Timmy Murphy. "He's getting a bit lazy, but he jumped well and kept picking up when the others came to him."

The road to Cheltenham continues today at Leopardstown, where the Gold Cup third, Neptune Collonges, bids to atone in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup for a fall there in December.

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: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map