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Kalahari books Ryanair ticket

Kalahari King is likely to go straight for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham following an unlucky run in Saturday's Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot.

Ferdy Murphy's runner was almost carried off the track by the riderless Petit Robin after he fell at the ninth fence, but he stayed on well to take fourth behind Master Minded.

Having taken third behind the Colm Murphy-trained Big Zeb in last season's Champion Chase, the Wexford native feels the step up in trip will suit.

"He was unlucky at Ascot. We're not sure where he would have finished up, but Graham (Lee) said they got racing too soon at Swinley Bottom and he still had plenty of horse under him," said Murphy.

"He reckoned he lost about 40 lengths when the horse carried him across the track. He has really run on up the straight and we're very pleased with him. Graham said it was the best feel he got off him since he won at Doncaster last February.

"He jumped fantastic, travelled great and I'd imagine he'd go straight for the Ryanair now."

Meanwhile, Shinrock Paddy is likely to stick at middle distances for the foreseeable future following his recent win at Naas. The seven-year-old disappointed at Leopardstown over the festive period, but showed that running to be all wrong when defying top weight in the Limestone Lad Hurdle.

"It was a good performance from him the other day. We were disappointed with him at Leopardstown the time before as it was the first time in my opinion that he didn't gallop to the line," said trainer Paul Nolan. "Before that run we hadn't been able to do the same work with him on the gallops because of the snow and he's a stuffy, burly horse which takes plenty of work.

"Maybe he was just a little bit short at Leopardstown and maybe he just doesn't stay the out-and-out three miles. There's a whole bunch of ifs and maybes, but we'll probably just stick to the middle distances. He'll go to the Boyne Hurdle in Navan in three weeks' time and we'll see where we go from there."

Nolan also issued a positive update on Joncol, which will bid to defend his crown in next month's Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown. Just as he did last season, the eight-year-old warmed up for the Hennessy by running third in the Lexus and his trainer is hoping history repeats itself.

"Joncol seems very well and we're hoping that, like last year, he improves between the Lexus and the Hennessy," Nolan said. "So far it's all going well and it would make the season for us if he could win it again."

Irish Independent