Friday 14 December 2018

Charbel takes jumpers bumper chance in Champion Chase bid

Trainer Kim Bailey. Photo: Getty Images
Trainer Kim Bailey. Photo: Getty Images

Keith Hamer

Kim Bailey is hoping for respite from the freezing weather to allow him to get Charbel to Southwell for his final public appearance today ahead of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

Charbel is one of three horses the Gloucestershire trainer has declared for the jumpers' bumpers card at the Nottinghamshire all-weather venue which was added to the fixture list because of the cold snap. Charbel's last race came in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in December when he was fourth to Politologue.

Bailey had been looking at a racecourse gallop for Charbel after he withdrew him from the Clarence House Chase at Ascot in January as the ground was too soft, but was pleased the opportunity of a run came up in this seven-race card with all contests over two miles.

"It's either that or take him for a racecourse gallop. We thought we'd go there as the grass will be not be much good for the next few days," said Bailey.

Smart Flat performer Scarlet Dragon, meanwhile, is still on target for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle - despite defeat on his hurdling debut last Saturday.

Alan King's charge was no match for impressive winner Global Citizen in the Dovecote at Kempton but ran on well to finish second.

Owner Henry Ponsonby said: "We were really pleased with his run. He wants a strong pace so it is looking likely he will run in the Supreme Novices'. If the winner hadn't run we'd have been a good winner and probably be second favourite."

Ponsonby will also be cheering on the King-trained Who Dares Wins, third to Supasundae in the Coral Cup last season, in the Pertemps Final. He said: "We're very sweet on his chances. He was third in the Coral Cup last year and that hasn't worked out too badly."

Leading

Balnaslow is on course for a return to Cheltenham for the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase. Graham McKeever's charge was one of the leading hunter chasers last season, with the highlight coming with a thrilling victory at Punchestown.

He finished a close fifth behind Pacha Du Polder at Prestbury Park last year and also chased home Dineur over the Grand National fences at Aintree. The 11-year-old has only had one outing this year, when pulling up in testing conditions in a point-to-point at Kirkistown last month, but McKeever expects him to improve considerably for better ground.

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