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.
“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.
“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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