Two winners from two runners at Plumpton yesterday meant only a slight delay to Alan King's happy new year. And there may be more to celebrate, with a valuable bonus at the Cheltenham Festival available for one of the victors, Kumbeshwar. The promising five-year-old jumped like an old hand and quickened readily away from his well-regarded rival Criqtonic to take the novice chase.
But, with the extra £60,000 offered to any horse who can graduate from success at the lowly Sussex track to glory at the sport's showcase occasion in his trainer's mind, he will be avoiding the best of his peers in March. "We'll give him plenty of entries at the Festival," King said, "but I should think his target would be the Grand Annual Chase, not taking on the likes of Sprinter Sacre in the Arkle Trophy. We'd like to win the bonus; that sort of money is not to be sniffed at."
Balder Success, like Kumbeshwar an odds-on shot yesterday, made it three wins from the King stable's last three juvenile hurdle runners but the youngster, now unbeaten in two starts, may not join Grumeti and Vendor in the Triumph Hurdle. "He has the quality," added his trainer, "but probably not enough experience."
Chris McGrath's Nap: Dunmore Boy (1.25 Southwell)
Two runs after a break under an apprentice may have primed him for today, with more experienced hands taking over.
Next best: Blaugrana (12.55 Southwell)
Well-bred filly who should have learnt plenty from her belated debut.
One to watch: Walk Like A Man (Donald McCain), well-supported when failing on his bumper debut at Musselburgh on Sunday, can be given another chance.
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