Tony Elves runs the rule over the weekend's action with an eye to the Cheltenham Festival.
As befits a 2-7 shot, Killultagh Vic was in command throughout and had the race in the bag when he slithered on landing after negotiating the final fence and sending Ruby skywards. It certainly looked a case of money back for fallers but somehow Walsh managed to stay intact with his horse and, although almost at standstill, was able to regain his balance and got his mount running again to snatch victory from defeat as he raced to head Blair Perrone close home and score by three-quarters of a length.
Followers will know the faith shown in this quarter for the form of the Grade 1 Irish Daily Mirror Novices’ Hurdle over three miles at Punchestown in April, where Killultagh Vic had half a length to spare from now hot World Hurdle contender Thistlecrack, with Shaneshill eight-and-a-half lengths back in third. Current RSA Chase market leader No More Heroes was back in fourth while the talented Roi Des Francs was back in sixth, so that suggests the 4-1 available for the JLT Novices’ Chase looks a bet.
Bookmakers may be taking a risk after the almost calamitous jump at the last and their hopes may pin on the tricky downhill third-last fence at Cheltenham, but any blemishes in the jumping ability of Killultagh Vic can be ironed out on the schooling grounds in the coming months.
The son of Old Vic had shown his liking for Cheltenham prior to his Punchestown victory when capturing the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle by a head from Noble Endeavor, and the Leopardstown Novices Chase race was the prelude for Vautour’s victory in the JLT Novices Chase 12 months ago.
With Douvan to go to war with in the Arkle and Mullins already sounding out that the JLT Novices Chase looks the likely target, the 7-2 doesn’t look like lasting too long and a 2pts recommendation is strongly advised about a horse that possess both class, speed and also the ability of a jockey who will stick to him like glue.
Don Cossack couldn’t defy the force of gravity in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day was back on track when taking the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles on Thursday.
In the end the Gordon Elliott-trained gelding ran out a nine-and-half-length winner from Wounded Knee as was well on top passing the post, but the performance didn’t smack of being anywhere near the level to land the Timico Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March.
True he did come to life in the spring of last year but a general price of 5-1 looks a little miserly in a race in which, invariably, the winner will have to be travelling throughout the race and Don Cossack’s current profile doesn’t meet with that requirement.
At Huntingdon on Friday, Sceau Royal came out as solid contender for the JCB Triumph Hurdle when putting up a slick display to take the Chatteris Fen Hurdle.
The Doctor Dino gelding is probably a little unlucky not to be heading Cheltenham with at least five straight wins under his belt and his seven length defeat of Perceus illustrated that has all the attributes to run a big race.
King, who won the race in 2005 with Penzance and in 2007 with Katchit, uses training methods that assure his contenders for the Juvenile crown are well equipped for the rigours of the race. We already have our early laid eggs in the Ivanovich Gorbatov basket, who is now as short as 7-2, but Sceau Royal looks a worthy second favourite at 14-1.