Murphy to consult Lee ahead of final call on King's return
FERDY Murphy is having second thoughts about his long-term plan to return Kalahari King to the racecourse at Doncaster on Saturday.
"He will have to carry 11st 12lb against 20 runners at Doncaster," Murphy said of his promising chaser, "and they are sure to go at 100 miles an hour. At this stage the one thing I don't want to do is to empty him, so we may wait for the Aon Chase (at Newbury) a week later."
Murphy will be guided by Graham Lee's instinct when his stable jockey schools Kalahari King this morning. "If Graham says we should run Saturday, that's good enough for me," he said. "What also concerns me is the ground at Doncaster. The grass (growth) dies for a couple of weeks when it has been covered in snow and it can get pretty testing."
Kalahari King is best on a decent surface, as he showed when just failing to catch Tom Cooper's classy Forpadydeplasterer in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy Chase at Cheltenham last season and by his subsequent victory at Aintree.
He remains on course for the Champion Chase despite throwing a splint towards the end of last year. "Whatever happens," Murphy said, "he only wants one run before Cheltenham. He needs time between races."
With the recent series of abandonments compressing the Cheltenham build-up, a broad range of equine talent will be on show this weekend.
Nicky Henderson is hoping that Binocular returns to his best in the Contenders' Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday. Punchestowns, favourite for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham, will contest the Challengers Novices' Chase on the same card.
Noel Fehily is resigned to missing the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals after he aggravated a shoulder injury, which could require surgery, in a fall on Saturday. "I'm hoping there might be some light at the end of the tunnel," Fehily said, "but it is not looking that way at present." (© The Times, London)