Tag Archive for: Blazing Khal

Albert Bartlett favourite Blazing Khal to miss Cheltenham

Charles Byrnes has announced that ante-post Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle favourite Blazing Khal will miss the race due to a setback.

The six-year-old has won all of his three races over hurdles this season, with the last two coming at Cheltenham.

He stepped up to three miles in the most recent of those and comfortably saw off Paul Nicholls’ Gelino Bello for a second time.

That saw him harden into the general 4-1 market leader for the Albert Bartlett, but Byrnes said on Twitter that he would miss an intended appearance at both the Dublin Racing Festival and Cheltenham, with the hope he makes Punchestown.

He wrote: “Unfortunately Blazing Khal has had a minor setback in his training and won’t be taking up his engagement at the DRF @LeopardstownRC and @CheltenhamRaces also coming too soon. He will be aimed towards @punchestownrace later in the spring.”

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.”

Byrnes delighted to have Cheltenham experience in the bag with Blazing Khal

A return to Cheltenham for the Albert Bartlett remains the ultimate aim for Blazing Khal after his Grade Two success at the track during the November meeting.

The gelding was a bumper winner last year when taking a competitive contest on heavy ground at Limerick, with his graduation into the hurdling ranks a success when he won a Galway maiden in October.

A steep step up in class then followed in Cheltenham’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle on November 12, an early-season trial for the Grade One Cheltenham Festival event with which it shares a name.

Blazing Khal proved himself perfectly able to hold his own among higher-calibre company, however, and was a convincing two-and-a-half-length winner at 9-2 under jockey Donal McInerney.

The victory has further bolstered trainer Charles Byrnes’ plans to head to Prestbury Park in March for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle over three miles.

“It’s a big plus now we know he handles the track and has some form there,” he said.

“He’s come home in good form, I haven’t really made any plans for him yet, but the goal is the Albert Bartlett back at Cheltenham in March.

“There’s not an awful lot for him in the meantime, there’s not a lot for him at Christmas.

“I think there’s a Grade One at Naas just after the New Year and there’s the Dublin Racing Festival, but at the moment I haven’t made any plans for him.”

Blazing Khal and Donal McInerney
Blazing Khal and Donal McInerney (Zac Goodwin/PA)

The five-year-old had seemed to show a preference for softer ground in his previous runs, but the Cheltenham performance came on good going and has left Byrnes to wonder whether he may not be as ground dependent as originally thought.

“The way he handled the ground the last time, you’d be wondering,” he said of the notion that Blazing Khal might not enjoy firmer conditions.

“I’d say it looks like ground wouldn’t be an issue to him, or so you’d hope.”

Blazing Khal puts down Festival marker for Byrnes

Blazing Khal took his unbeaten record over timber to two with a battling display in the Grade Two Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The five-year-old, trained by Charles Byrnes, got the better of Gelino Bello on the run to the line to score by two and a half lengths in the hands of Donal McInerney.

Current Mood took the seven-strong field along until after the second-last, where she was passed by Blazing Khal and Gelino Bello. The pair came close together at the final flight and it was the former who proved the strongest from there.

The 9-2 shot had only made his hurdling debut five weeks ago at Galway, where he won a 17-runner maiden event.

Blazing Khal was given a quote of 20-1 for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with Paddy Power and Betfair, who introduced him at 25-1 for the Ballymore.

Byrnes – who returned to training in September after a six-month suspension having been found to have been “seriously negligent” in relation to his supervision of Viking Hoard at Tramore in October 2018 – said: “We had high hopes, he was impressive the last day and I thought he’d come on plenty for it.

“His bumper form back in Ireland worked out very well, so he did look a good horse. We’ve always considered him more of a three-mile horse, he finds an awful lot at the end of his races. He jumped a wee bit slow at stages, but I think that will come on. It was the same in his bumper at Limerick, it turned out to be hot bumper so I think he’s a very good horse.”

A winner to remember for Donal McInerney
A winner to remember for Donal McInerney (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Looking to March, Byrnes – no stranger to Festival glory having guided the top-class Solwhit to the World Hurdle crown in 2013 – added: “I’d be thinking of the Albert Bartlett, but if the ground was soft he could go for the Ballymore. The Albert Bartlett would look the obvious race.

“I’d imagine he’d probably have one more run back in Ireland before then.”

It was a landmark winner for McInerney, who said: “It’s my first winner here, it’s brilliant. I was happy enough with where I was, just going down the back it was getting a bit tight for him and I just had to sit.

“He’s still a bit green and novicey over his hurdles, but he was good there.”