Nervous Cheltenham wait for connections of Kansas City Chief

Neil Mulholland is concerned one of the most popular horses in training will miss the Cheltenham Festival because of compressed handicap weights.

Kansas City Chief won the three-mile Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in October, a qualifier for the final at the big meeting on March 17.

However, the 13-year-old, who has been in the form of his life this season, not finishing out of the frame in his last five runs, may not be able to run in either the Pertemps or the Coral Cup a day earlier, because his 130 rating.

Mulholland, who trains at Limpley Stoke, near Bath, has tasted success at Cheltenham before, with The Druids Nephew winning the 2015 Ultima Handicap Chase.

Yet he fears Kansas City Chief, who has won twice, finished runner-up on two other occasions and third in his last five runs, many not get a run at a track he relishes.

“I am hoping to go there with a few in handicaps,” said Mulholland.

“Horses who have finished first and second, and are rated 130, 134, in the weights they are getting 10st, 10st 4lb and don’t get a run. The handicaps are so compressed.

“The Pertemps would be the better race for Kansas City Chief, but as he is a family horse, he will run wherever he can get in.

“But I’m not sure he will get in anything, as he needs a few to come out.

“There is the three-mile handicap at Aintree if he doesn’t go to Cheltenham.

“He had a little gallop around Wincanton on Thursday morning and we are very happy with him. He is 13 now and likes to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

“He is a happy horse and seems in the form of his life. It would be nice to see him go to Cheltenham as he loves it there, but we will have to see what happens.”

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