IT was very much Nicky Henderson’s day at Kempton on Saturday, with the Seven Barrows handler completing a four-timer at the Sunbury track, including the Grade 2 Coral Silviniaco Conti Chase.
James Bowen kicked off a double of his own through Mister Fisher, who appreciated the return to Grade 2 company having been out of his comfort zone in the King George here over Christmas.
The 15/8 favourite tracked the pace set alternately by Rouge Vif and Eldorado Allen (Colin Tizzard/Brendan Powell), moving up as the former weakened tamely (reported to have had a respiratory problem) from the third last, and he moved to the lead before the last, where another sound jump left the race at his mercy.
Eldorado Allen kept on gamely, and was one and three-quarter lengths behind at the post, with the pair a distance clear of the others.
Rouge Vif had an excuse, but is increasingly looking a short runner, while Defi Du Seuil ran a lifeless race, and it’s hard to envisage him rediscovering the form which saw him beat Un De Sceaux in a brace of Grade 1 contests, including this one, a couple of seasons ago.
“Mister Fisher ran a good race as it was his first run of the season,” said Henderson about the King George run, where he was pulled up before three out. “You could say was it stamina or just the fact it was his first run but I wouldn’t be in a rush to go back to three miles.
“He has a Gold Cup entry, but I would think the Ryanair is more realistic than anything else.
“That race was made for him today. If the Ryanair was on good ground, he would be competitive.”
Cobblers carrys off Dream run
THE Listed Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle was not enhanced by a false start, and both joint favourites, Green Book, and Marie’s Rock, were out of the race as early as the second hurdle when badly hampered by the fall of Ch’tibello.
Those who raced prominently were advantaged, and the first two home were in those positions almost throughout. Cobblers Dream (Ben Case/Jack Quinlan) ceded the lead at the second hurdle, but was in front again two out, and kept on well to score at 10/1 from the outsider Highway One O Two (Chris Gordon/Jamie Moore), who had led for the middle section of the contest.
Call Me Lord (Nicky Henderson/James Bowen) did well to make ground from mid-field to grab third. The five-and-a-half-length winner, owned by Lady Jane Grosvenor, was making it two from two in handicaps, and certainly deserves praise. An 8lb rise is not lenient given how this played out, but his new mark pretty much guarantees that he will get a run in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham in March, and that or the Martin Pipe would be obvious targets for this unexposed hurdler.
Connections won the Grand Annual a couple of years ago, so are no strangers to success at the Cheltenham Festival. Ben Case says Cobblers Dream will go novice chasing next season, all being well.