Mad Max makes giant leap into Arkle Trophy reckoning
Riches need not be an embarrassment, as Nicky Henderson knows. On the day jump racing emerged from its shutdown, the Lambourn-based trainer added to his stable's formidable armoury in the novice chase division when Mad Max made a most satisfactory start to his career over fences. The giant eight-year-old, 5-6 favourite for the Novices' Chase, put himself right into the Cheltenham equation with a near-perfect display of jumping under Barry Geraghty and some eye-catching changes of gear on ground rendered testing as rain followed melting snow.
Mad Max was sometimes clumsy over hurdles last season but, as Henderson knew they would, the larger obstacles suit him well. His sole error came two out but he dealt with it gratifyingly nimbly for such a massive individual and made up for it at the last, when a splendid leap took two lengths out of the only one of his rivals still in contention, Mahonia. The pair had already left the other three for dead in the back straight and Mad Max quickened again on the run-in to surge nearly five lengths clear.
Henderson confirmed afterwards that the Kayf Tara gelding's target in March would be the Arkle Trophy over yesterday's two-mile trip. "He has all the pace in the world," he said, "and wouldn't want to be going further. He really is the most ridiculous size and hardly noticed hurdles, they just got in his way. He treats fences with more respect. He was a bit strong early but that was just his exuberance."
Mad Max has an engine to match his chassis, but his carburettor has needed some tinkering. Every milli- metre of clear airway counts in getting oxygen to his lungs and he has now had four surgical procedures on his larynx and palate. The only rattle yesterday came when the pressure was off, as he throttled back pulling up.
Mad Max is 20-1 for the Arkle. His more experienced stablemate Riverside Theatre is 12-1, behind the Irish favourites Captain Cee Bee and Sizing Europe. Henderson, though, dominates the betting for the three-mile RSA Chase, with Punchestowns and Long Run. The last-named's victory on Boxing Day was boosted yesterday when his 13-length victim Tazbar cruised home at Huntingdon.
The depth of this season's young chasing talent prompted Andy Turnell to put on hold the career over fences of his best prospect, Micheal Flips, and the tactic found reward in the form of yesterday's most valuable contest, the Lanzarote Hurdle. Ridden by Nick Scholfield, the six-year-old saw out the two miles and five furlongs with a will to take the £18,786 handicap by eight lengths at 9-1, thwarting a gamble on the Henderson-trained top-weight, Duc De Regniere.
"He'll go over fences next year," said Wiltshire-based Turnell of the gelding, who shares his sire with Mad Max, "and I see him as an Arkle horse. But this year's race looks like the hottest for about 100 years so I decided to stick to hurdles for another season."
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
Latest in Sport
Arturo Vidal to Manchester United: Juventus midfielder's agent 'holds talks' with Manchester United over £35 million move
Luke Shaw arrives a week early for Manchester United pre-season training after cutting short post-World Cup holiday
PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Luis Suarez joins Barcelona: Wilfried Bony, Karim Benzema and the other transfer targets Liverpool should look to replace Suarez with
Brazil vs Netherlands World Cup 2014: A history of the third-place play-offs
- 2 Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...