Sublimity ready to continue new era

As Twist Magic stood preening himself and taking the plaudits in the winner's circle at Sandown on Saturday, Paul Nicholls pointed to his stable's latest star and pointed out to anyone who cared to listen that these were what quickened the public pulse. The timing of the champion trainer's comment, if not deliberate, was certainly apposite, given the sordid time the sport was enduring off the track.

Of course these cannot operate without jockeys but Desert Orchid was a celebrity whether ridden by Colin Brown, Simon Sherwood or Richard Dunwoody, and Kauto Star will pull in the crowds with either Ruby Walsh or Sam Thomas in the saddle. And this Saturday at Cheltenham, the seasonal wraps come off a horse with the potential to become an enduring favourite as the reigning hurdles king Sublimity returns to the scene of his finest moment.

The seven-year-old has not raced since taking the Champion Hurdle in March under Philip Carberry, putting the old guard to the sword in the process. He is favourite for the repeat at 7-2, generally half the price of those perceived as the greatest dangers, Harchibald and Katchit.

His victory in March seemed the start of a new era and trainer John Carr is not inclined to disagree. "I know we are there to be shot at," he said yesterday, "but I'm not afraid of anything until we are beaten."

With Brave Inca and Hardy Eustace, the two former champions behind Sublimity at the Festival, now heading down the stayers' route in acknowledgement that there are younger, quicker legs out there on the park Carr has kept a watching brief on the trials to date, and admits the emergence of challengers to the pride of his Co Kildare yard has not come up to his expectations.

"I thought Blythe Knight and Katchit were the two who were going to come out of the pack this year," he said, "but I was disappointed with Blythe Knight in the Fighting Fifth and Katchit was only third there."

Such fighting talk may yet tempt fate, but Carr reports Sublimity, favourite ahead of top four-year-old Katchit and last year's Champion Hurdle third Afsoun for Saturday's contest with its sponsors Boylesports, in competitive fettle.

"He summered well possibly too well as he put on a lot of weight but he's in very good form and is fit as we can get him without having a run," said the Maynooth-based trainer. He won't be fully wound up as we want to leave something for the spring, but he is fit enough to do himself justice."

The forecast good going will suit the son of Selkirk. "Cheltenham seems to have missed a lot of the heavy rain, the ground will be ok for him and he goes well at the track," added Carr. "He is going to run a good race."

The champion was given a vote of confidence yesterday from outside his own camp, too. Last year's Fighting Fifth winner Straw Bear, pulled up in the Champion Hurdle, is another who will be making his seasonal debut and rider Tony McCoy said: "He's rated similar to Afsoun and has been going pretty well at home. But Sublimity is the one we've got to beat."

The Grade 2 hurdle race, formerly known as the Bula, will be one focus of interest on Saturday; another will be the day's most valuable prize, the Boylesports Gold Cup. New Little Bric, bidding to extend Nicholls' hot Saturday streak, is favourite for the 150,000 handicap chase.

The Ditcheat handler was yesterday at pains to reassure Denman's fans that the Hennessy Gold Cup winner was in fine shape ahead of his Lexus Chase challenge in 15 days' time, despite a wobble in the ante-post market for the Leopardstown feature.

And a vote of confidence from that particular quarter is probably more valuable than one from your average football club chairman.

"He is absolutely 100 per cent," said Nicholls. "He coughed a couple of times the Tuesday morning after the Hennessy. But he has exercised every day since, he worked this morning and is fine."

Chris McGrath

Nap: Meet The Legend

(Taunton 3.50)

NB: Colisay

(Taunton 1.50)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living