TORNADO Flyer (173) was a strong staying winner of the King George VI Chase in the hands of Danny Mullins, who played his hand last in a race run at a searching gallop.

In the past, the Grade 1 novice chase run earlier on the card has often been run in a faster time, but this was not the case on Sunday as the King George pace was akin to running three miles at a two-and-a-half-mile gallop.

Frodon (153) and Bryony Frost attempted to repeat last year’s tactics until giving best at the last fence down the back straight as stablemates Saint Calvados (161) and Clan Des Obeaux (164) swept past to maintain the pace. However, the winner was waiting in the wings.

Danny Mullins was probably conscious of his mount entering unchartered waters in terms of the trip, although his partner swiftly put his seal on the race approaching the second last fence, proving more than equal to the task.

The eight-year-old covered the ground from the fourth last in 73.6 seconds, which, although the slowest closing sectional on the day, was sufficient for a nine-length victory.

Bravemansgame (156) was a compelling winner of the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and clocked the same time-figure on my numbers as he did at Haydock, while again gave the strong impression he can run much faster.

The Ditcheat novice was exemplary at his fences as he turned hurdles form around with Ahoy Senor (149), who was not so proficient at his obstacles. The son of Brave Mansonnien was especially clever at the final fence as he completed the closing sectional in 72.2 seconds.

The novices’ limited handicap chase won by Jacamar (144) is worthy of closer inspection from a time perspective as Milton Harris’s gelding posted his best time-figure to date over fences.

To confirm the improved form, a shortened race comparison with the King George shows the six-year-old to be 18 lengths faster with a closing sectional of 71.2 seconds contributing most of the difference.

Nicky Henderson completed a clean sweep of the hurdle races at the Sunbury track with former champion hurdler Epatante (158) the pick of the afternoon as the J.P. McManus-owned mare improved on the time-figure she earned in the Fighting Fifth, without reaching the heights of when winning at the Festival in 2020.

Nico de Boinville left nothing to chance and sat close to old adversary Not So Sleepy (147) who, despite not looking keen to start, took the field along at a good pace.


Taking up the running at the third last hurdle, Nicky Henderson’s mare looked like winning convincingly, however, as her closing sectional of 78.7 seconds confirmed she was possibly tiring at the finish.

In comparison, Marie’s Rock (135) covered the same ground in 78.5 seconds and the impressive Broomfield Burg (140+) stopped the clock at 78.0 seconds.

The latter may prove interesting if he was to dip into handicap company as a stronger gallop may see the keen-going type to even better effect.

Outstanding Shishkin delivers

SHISHKIN (170) was the star attraction at Kempton on Monday and Nicky Henderson’s stable star, unbeaten over fences, delivered on every expectation with a performance of outstanding quality on the clock in the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase.

The early pace set by Before Midnight (150) was only modest for the grade which is confirmed by a side-by-side view with the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase as Solo set a stronger pace to reach the first fence in the back straight 16 lengths quicker.

The differential reduced slightly through the section to the end of the back straight as Nico De Boinville was still happy taking a trail into the race.

Shishkin was asked to put his stamp on the race on the turn for home and, after edging to the lead at the second last fence, the seven-year-old was 10 lengths clear at the last as he posted a closing sectional from the last in the back straight of 68.6 seconds to overhaul Edwardstone (160) (71.7) in the race comparison.


Edwardstone continues to thrive over fences and is not far off the level reached by Ferny Hollow and Riviere D’Etel. Alan King’s gelding is a strong stayer over the minimum distance and rates a serious challenger to the Irish novice chasers.

To complete the picture over fences, Five Star Getaway (135) would have been 26 lengths behind Edwardstone in a shortened race and registered a closing sectional of 73.7 which, in the context of the races, was a good effort by Christian Williams’s gelding who was sent off the longest price of his stable’s entrants.

The opening Juvenile hurdle on the card won by Iceo (135+) produced the best time figure earned by a three-year-old hurdler either side of the Irish Sea this season.

Prominent or close to the brisk pace set by Illico Des Places, the Ditcheat youngster was very accurate at his hurdles in the hands of Bryony Frost. The pair struck for home on the turn and never looked back as they galloped away to a 17-length victory.

Any thoughts that the ease of victory was due to the race falling apart are dispelled when the contest is compared to the concluding handicap won by Rowland Ward (130).

Joining the races from the last hurdle with a circuit to run shows the pace in the handicap to be stronger despite the visual impression created by Tom Symonds’s runaway gelding.

The Widdow Maker, who led the handicap, ensured the gap between the races widened to around 15 lengths by the last in the back straight. Winner Rowland Ward assumed control turning for home and eventually won by a diminishing length, posting a closing sectional from the third last hurdle of 84.5 seconds in the process.

Through the same section, Iceo stopped the clock at 82.7 seconds to reduce the gap between the races in the reduced race and confirm the faster overall race time.

The mares’ hurdle won by Emmpressive Lady (110) (81.7) was by far the slowest when adjusted for distance and when viewed against the other races in a reduced contest, although the finishing effort of Sue Gardner’s mare was the fastest on the card over the smaller obstacles.