Blazing Khal stamps his class

Blazing Khal further enhanced his Cheltenham Festival claims by making it back-to-back course victories in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

A winner on his hurdling debut at Galway before winning a Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle trial at Cheltenham last month, Blazing Khal stepped up to three miles for the first time on his return to the Cotswolds.

Ridden confidently by Donal McInerney, the even-money favourite gave his supporters a brief fright by fluffing his lines at the second flight from home, but was soon back on the bridle.

The Kalanisi gelding moved smoothly to the lead approaching the final flight and readily kicked four and a quarter lengths clear of Gelino Bello, who was also runner-up to the winner four weeks ago.

Paddy Power make Blazing Khal their 5-1 favourite (from 8-1) for the Albert Bartlett in March, with Byrnes planning one more run in the meantime.

He said: “I’m delighted. I thought his jumping was much better today, apart from the second-last, and he took off again when he gave him a slap down the shoulder. I’d say he’d plenty left.

Blazing Khal returns to the Cheltenham winner's enclosure
Blazing Khal returns to the Cheltenham winner’s enclosure (David Davies/PA)

“We were a small bit worried it would be a bit quick for him the last day and I think three miles is his forte.

“The Albert Bartlett would definitely be the aim. Maybe we’ll run him at the Dublin Racing Festival (at Leopardstown in February), depending on the ground – he wouldn’t run there if it’s good ground.

“He could still improve more, hopefully.”

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