Kemboy storms into Gold Cup picture
Kemboy catapulted himself into the Cheltenham Gold Cup picture with a dominant display in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown yesterday.
David Mullins made a bold move after only a mile to sweep around the field and take up the running and the six-year-old relished being out in front.
Trained by Willie Mullins, Kemboy was stepping up in class and trip having won the Clonmel Oil Chase on his reappearance, after which he was supposed to contest the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.
Bad weather prevented him from making the journey to Berkshire at the 11th hour, but his enthusiastic owners of the Supreme Racing Club gained more than adequate compensation.
Monalee kept him company on the front end as Outlander dropped away, but approaching the second last most of his rivals were being ridden, including last year's winner and favourite Road To Respect, who slipped badly and nearly came down on the final bend.
A big leap at the last sealed the deal and Kemboy (8/1) powered seven and a half lengths clear of Monalee, with Road To Respect running on well in the circumstances for third. Paddy Power slashed the winner to 10/1 from 50s for the Gold Cup.
David Mullins said: "We were going very, very slow and even when I hit the front with a lap to go, we were still going slow. Everything went to plan really except we had to just let him go, nobody took me on. He jumped well and there is still plenty to improve on I think. He could be a proper horse."
It was a mixed day for the Mullins yard, with several odds-on shots turned over and Faugheen falling.
"I don't think a winner was ever so badly wanted - the way our horses were running today. A good few of them have been just a bit off form so it was fantastic," said the champion trainer.
Apple's Jade ran out an easy winner of the Christmas Hurdle, adding to last year's success in the race.
Winning at the highest level for the ninth time, Jack Kennedy decided to keep things simple and bounced out into an early lead.
She held around a four-length advantage over Faugheen and both seemed happy enough with their positions as none of the other runners were able to lay up anywhere near them.
Despite jumping out to her right as the pace increased, Kennedy had not moved a muscle on the 8/13 favourite as he asked her to go about her business running towards the second last.
Ruby Walsh spotted the move and started to ask Faugheen to get closer, but Faugheen took off a stride too soon and suffered a crashing fall.
The former champion hurdler was on the ground for some time, but eventually rose to his feet after a couple of minutes and was walked back in by Walsh.
That gifted Apple's Jade the race, but it would have taken something special from Faugheen to put it up to Gordon Elliott's mare, which finished full of running as Early Doors stayed on to take a remote second.
Kennedy said: "I had to make the running again on her, but it didn't matter. She jumped great."
Henry de Bromhead's productive Christmas continued with a double. Malinas Jack (8/1) was a slightly fortuitous winner of the opening maiden hurdle while Cuneo (12/1) needed all of Rachael Blackmore's strength in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Qualifier).
Gun Digger, in the hands of Kennedy, was a slightly fortunate winner of the Ballymaloe Foods Beginners Chase to give Elliott his first winner of the three days at the Foxrock venue. Both Bacardys and Borderline Chatho held chances at the last before falling independently to leave Gun Digger (3/1) gallop 18 lengths clear of runner-up Whisperinthebreeze.