Kalif Du Berlais creates big impression at Kempton

Paul Nicholls introduced an exciting prospect at Kempton in Kalif Du Berlais, who galloped on strongly from the front to win the Play Coral ‘Racing-Super-Series’ For Free Juvenile Hurdle by seven and a half lengths at 4-5.

Nicholls was quick to play down his chances of heading to the Cheltenham Festival, with a future chasing career his long-term target, but that didn’t stop punters from backing the French import into 12-1 with Betfair for the Triumph Hurdle.

Kalif Du Berlais had previously scored impressively on his racecourse bow at Compiegne and Nicholls told Racing TV: “We thought he was a smart horse.

“My only reservation was that he hasn’t been in this country all that long and normally they need a bit of a break to acclimatise, but because I knew we were going to have to give him a run, I just kept going straight on with him and he’s just thrived on everything.

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“He’s never looked back from the minute he came in the yard and he’s a gorgeous horse – he’s a chaser, that’s what he was bought for, so we need to mind him. He won’t have too many races this year; we need to look after him and we will.

“His jumping is brilliant but he’s not a Triumph horse is he! All those types like him in the past – Clan Des Obeaux, Frodon – they always finish in the middle and end up superstar chasers, so I don’t see a point in running them in the Triumph Hurdle.

“He could come back here for the Adonis, although we’ve got a few runners for that, so it might be one more run and possibly look at Aintree. All options are open, but I don’t see him as a Triumph horse because he’s the wrong type.”

Nicholls feels Kalif Du Berlais has leapt to the top of the pecking order among his juvenile hurdlers but added: “He’s all about the future and I don’t see any point staying around over hurdles with him for too long, he might have to go chasing in the autumn as a four-year-old.”

Flegmatik secured a third course victory in the New Bet-In-Race With Coral Handicap Chase over three miles, scoring by two lengths at 7-2.

Tristan Durrell gave Dan Skelton’s charge a positive ride and his 3lb allowance came in handy as they saw off the late challenge from top-weight Chianti Classico.

Assistant trainer Bridget Andrews said: “He’s been a great horse for the owners and obviously has a love for Kempton.

“He definitely bounces off the bit better ground, although it looks a bit tacky today, but I don’t know what it is about Kempton.

Kempton Park – Saturday 13th January
Flegmatik ridden by Tristan Durrell on the way to victory (John Walton/PA)

“He’s a strong traveller and we’d normally hold on to him a little bit more than we did today, but it was always happening a bit slowly for him lately and he was taking a bit to get going, so we said if he does get to the front today, just press on – and Tristan gave him a great ride.

“I was pleased to see him push on when he did, the horse has sometimes pulled up a bit when in front but he never gave me that impression today and stayed on really well.”

Nicky Henderson’s Gentle Slopes survived a stewards’ inquiry to claim the Coral Get Closer To The Action Novices’ Hurdle at 4-5, having edged right on the run-in before shading Junkanoo by a nose.

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