It was meant to be a big day for Nicky Henderson and JP McManus at Kempton, but it didn’t all go to plan. Although each had a winner and promising ones at that, more went wrong than right. Charli Parcs was the most notable disappointment when falling at the last already looking held by a couple at the least. His big reputation has taken a dent and if all is okay after the tumble, I’m sure he’ll still go to Cheltenham. Whether people will back him with the same confidence is doubtful after such a weak display in favourable conditions. Barry Geraghty is in hospital as a result of the fall and has cracked a rib and damaged a lung, leaving Cheltenham in the air. The old Seven Barrows favourite Triolo D’Alene was pulled up and dismounted after a blunder at the first and has since been retired owing nothing to anyone.
Despite the huge disappointment of Charli Parcs, there was relief for McManus in the opener at Kempton when River Frost put on a gutsy display to take the spoils. The 5/1 favourite was always finding and dug out enough to beat off the attentions of Coastal Tiep. He will go to Cheltenham now off around 140 – a feasible mark – and looks in a good position to strike there, although he could be found for a lack of speed if the race turns into a sprint down the hill. The County Hurdle looks too short and the Coral Cup should suit better and as only a 5YO would receive some generous allowances.
River Wylde has timed his sudden rise just in time for the festival and announced himself as a live contender for the Supreme. 12/1 is about as good as you’ll get, although BoyleSports are still 33/1 for no reason whatsoever… Our big fancy, Elgin, ran well in 2nd and he not heavily bumped the last hurdle it would have been very interesting on the run in. The race looks solid and was a boost to Neon Wolf, but much less so for Finians Oscar with Capataine running very poorly again. River Wylde was a bright spark for Henderson on a testing day at Kempton.
It’s hard to believe Frodon is only five with the number of wins he has already racked up and he added another Grade Two to his belt when striking at Kempton. He won the Grade Two Novice Chase fairly easily, but was given a test by the brave Gold Present. Pilgrims Choice was the most impressive winner of the day, but also the most strange. The 25/1 shot won the feature BetBright Chase and didn’t come off the bridle until the run in. I understand he’s a quirky horse and needs to be ridden that way but he was hard held crossing the line and it just doesn’t look good for the sport when the supposed best race of a busy Saturday has a finish like that. James Best did what he needed to, and did it well but you can’t help but question a few of the horses latest runs on the back of that.
In Ireland the one time big Triumph favourite, Landofhopeandglory, was well beaten into third by Dinaria Des Obeaux and JOB’s big Cheltenham hope looks to have fallen short. Ruby Walsh showed why he’s considered the best by so many, delivering Pleasant Company perfectly to land the Grade Three Bobbyjo Chase. Honestly go online and watch it.
At Newcastle, the Eider Chase was one hell of a slog and Mountainous our pick ran a mighty race considering the pile up he was involved in at the first. The 12YO stuck in contention despite being 20L plus behind from the get go. But the plucky Mysteree ran a blinder to land the pot and had some left in the tank it appeared. He looks a dour stayer and enjoyed the tough conditions, looking a typical Welsh National horse in the making. The Scottish National looks a realistic prospect close to the end of the season.
Run of the Day: Kempton
1 50 MASTER BLUEYES (A King) 13/2, Grade Two Juvenile Hurdle, 2M, Good
Charli Parcs was all the rage beforehand and looked beat before crashing at the last anyhow. Master Blueyes more than stood up to the plate and beat some proven juveniles by over 10L. He travelled beautifully throughout and showed good speed – as you’d expect from such a solid flat horse – to breeze clear. King was pleasantly surprised at the effort and the 4YO will head to the Triumph if all goes well in the coming weeks. Good ground is a plus and the yard have found another genuine EW contender for an open looking affair at the festival. The Evening Hush and Fidux form looks strong and this race could turn out to be much better than anticipated after the fall of Charli Parcs.