To one of the few who found it difficult to share the euphoria at Kempton the previous afternoon, a return to the same track yesterday represented the perfect tonic. For while Kauto Star was enjoying his latest victory parade, back in Ditcheat, the trainer of his closest pursuer was reminded that Long Run's rematch is only one of his priorities for the Cheltenham Festival in March.
First Nicky Henderson saw Sprinter Sacre confirm himself the most exciting novice around over two miles when thrashing Peddlers Cross by 16 lengths in only his second chase. Then Finian's Rainbow began his preparations for the Queen Mother Champion Chase by salvaging the William Hill Desert Orchid Chase after a blunder four out, Barry Geraghty, having missed out on two Grade One prizes at Leopardstown to ride for Henderson, proving suitably inspired. Henderson said Finian's Rainbow would improve for his comeback when next seen, at Ascot next month.
Finian's Rainbow was chased down only late in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy at last season's Festival, and Sprinter Sacre is now as short as 2-1 in places to go one better this time. "I adore this horse," Geraghty said. "He's the sort that gets your blood up, one of the best I've sat on – frighteningly good."
Heavy going at Chepstow made for a slow-motion spectacle in the Coral Welsh National, but that suited Le Beau Bai down to the ground as he plugged on dourly. But the toast of chasing remains Kauto Star after his unprecedented fifth success in the King George VI Chase, and several hundred admirers cheered him along the single, winding street from the Somerset stables of the champion trainer, Paul Nicholls, to the local pub.
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