'King' will seek Punchestown compensation - Murphy
FERDY Murphy has confirmed that Kalahari King will bid to bounce back from his early exit at Aintree last week in Tuesday's Boylesports.com Champion Chase at Punchestown.
Having finished third in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, Murphy's nine-year-old was sent off joint-favourite for the Melling Chase, but only made it as far as the second fence.
The Wexford native is confident that fall has not affected the gelding's confidence in any way and is hopeful he will show his true colours next week.
"I took him to the beach on Thursday -- he's grand and there's not a bother on him," said Murphy yesterday.
"He'll head out there on Sunday, all being well, and we'll see what happens. It was unfortunate what happened at Aintree, but it doesn't seem to have affected him at all.
"He had a school on Tuesday and Graham (Lee) said he was perfect. He's really only had two runs this season and seems in good form."
Joining Kalahari King on the trip from across the Irish Sea will be the Paul Nicholls-trained Twist Magic.
The eight-year-old is already a dual Grade One winner this season, having landed the Tingle Creek and the Victor Chandler Chase, but disappointed in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
"He was never really going at Cheltenham and he doesn't seem to like the place -- or the occasion -- so we've just put a line through it," Nicholls stated.
"He's well, looks good and I'm very happy with him. Decent ground will suit him well."
The master of Ditcheat also confirmed that former Gold Cup winner Denman -- who ran a brave race at Cheltenham when finding only Imperial Commander too good in the Gold Cup -- is ready to take his place in the Guinness Gold Cup line-up.
"He's the best he's looked all season. He was a bit slow in coming into his coat before Cheltenham. He's working great," Nicholls reported. "We schooled him the other day and he was really enthusiastic, I couldn't be happier with him."
The ground at Punchestown was good, good to yielding in places yesterday, with the track's racing manager Richie Galway indicating that they are going to stick to their plan to water each day to maintain the ground. "There is little or no rain forecast, at least until the middle of the week," Galway explained, "but we will keep monitoring the situation in case the forecast changes."