Hobbs hoping Captain Chris repays faith on fencing debut
Captain Chris will bid to repair his bruised reputation in the Independent Newspaper Novices' Chase at Cheltenham tomorrow.
The six-year-old last season looked destined for the top when blowing away his rivals in three starts over timber, but let down favourite-backers on his seasonal reappearance in Chepstow's Persian War Novices' Hurdle.
That loss prompted connections to send him over fences and Philip Hobbs now hopes a tongue-tie will help the gelding, who suffers from a breathing problem. "He has schooled very well over fences," said the trainer. "He has run well on soft ground, though I would prefer better ground."
Among the opposition is Colin Tizzard's Kilmurry, which turned in an exhibition round of jumping when the former Henry de Bromhead-trained gelding won at the track last month.
Just five runners go to post, with De Bromhead's unbeaten chaser Loosen My Load a contender for the visitors. Nicky Henderson's Radium and the Paul Nicholls-trained Ghizao complete the line-up.
A rare quality day of racing will see another raider, Forpadydeplasterer, bid to stamp his authority on the Sinbad Testimonial Chase. Tom Cooper's eight-year-old has an incredible record, and is the proverbial model of consistency -- finishing out of the first two just once in 16 starts.
While this race is over two miles, he is to be targeted at Kauto Star in the King George. And though he will not be at peak fitness, he has the requisite class and fondness for Cheltenham to get the job done.
Meanwhile, Johnny Murtagh will partner Aidan O'Brien's Recital in today's Criterium de Saint-Cloud. O'Brien has two other contenders in Obligation, partnered by Colm O'Donoghue, and the Seamie Heffernan-ridden Exodus.