32RED KAUTO STAR NOVICES´ CHASE (In Memory Of Nigel Clark) (Grade 1)
At the current four day declaration stage we still have a strong field in place for the Kauto Star Novices Chase. Over the years this race has been a stepping stone towards the Gold Cup with winners such as Long Run and Coneygree going on to win the big race following a victory here.
Harry Fry has American entered. The Bathwick Novices chase winner made all at Exeter to record a two and a quarter length triumph over Label Des Obeaux, who did not run that badly at the Cheltenham open meeting this month when behind Singlefarmpayment. The third from the Exeter run, Vieux Lille, ran a blinder when behind runaway Tommy Whittle winner Yala Enki. The question for American is going to be the ground, if it comes up too much on the fast side he just might be an absentee.
Amore Alato looked impressive when hacking up in the Listed Intermediate Chase at Sandown and will be taking a big hike once more stepping up to Grade 1 company. He has competed at the top level before, finishing fourth in the Ascot Chase earlier in the year behind old boy Silviniaco Conti, who is himself attempting to land a third King George later in the afternoon. By Irish Derby winning sire Winged Love, you would have thought that solid fast ground will play to his strengths. The champ Richard Johnson knows him extremely well and has a solid record on him that reads 120221. This will be only the second time Johnson has ridden the seven year old around the larger obstacles, but with one win and a second on his resume he has to come into the equation on ground that is ideal.
A lot of money came in for Tony Martin’s Anibale Fly at Fairyhouse this month when finishing runner up in the Drinmore Novices Chase behind Coney Island. He was probably given a mis-judged ride on the day by Barry Geraghty who held him up throughout the race, he had every chance over the last with several lengths to make up to eventually go behind by two and a quarter lengths. If he was ridden a bit more handy from two out he surely would have been a lot closer at the line. He has already dished out a defeat to Martello Tower this season at Navan, form franked this month at Fairyhouse. Also from the Navan race the fourth Total Recall has gone on to win last week at Navan by seven lengths, so the formline is looking strong if he gets ground that will suit.
Churchtown Champ won well at Southwell last month by ten lengths and justified his odds in good style, but he will have to contend with a twelve pound rise, what does go in his favor is the quicker ground. Might Bite is coming into just his second season as a chaser for trainer Nicky Henderson. It has taken him just two attempts to get off the mark this season when landing an average novice contest at Doncaster, beating his rivals on the bridle. This is a massive hike for Might Bite who also has a second preference at Leicester on the Wednesday.
One I tend to follow is Present Man who exerted well to land the Grade 2 December Novices Chase at Doncaster just over two weeks ago. His front running performance was impressive, jumping soundly all the way round and he never really looked in danger from the runner up Potters Legend. Paul Nicholls also has Frodon, now I was kicking myself as I really fancied him when he won Caviar Gold Cup as he also had an entry in a Graded race that day and elected to run in this handicap instead. He was very well in on that run that day on old form. Sam seems to like the four year old who gets an age allowance of 7lb from the field and its not impossible for a four year old to win this as Long Run did back in 2009.
Tony Martin’s Anibale Fly has been catching my eye, the ground will suit and no problems with the trip considering how well he stays, concerns is that the yard are not really firing showing 0-23 in recent weeks and is only 3-42 when sending horses to the UK, Might Bite is unknown quantity as is Amore Alato who both look open to more improvement. American looks better with a bit of cut so any rain venturing at Kempton will help, Froden will have to really step up on recent win, but three miles looks right up his street after the Caviar win, and the weight allowance a big plus, but I am going to give PRESENT MAN a big shout here, I just feel front running tactics at Kempton is not a bad attribute to have in a race like this, he could hang on and see them all off with his stamina.
PRESENT MAN : 2pts Win @ 9/2 (Skybet) (BOG)