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Goshen in top shape following brilliant Kingwell return

Gary Moore is counting down the days to the Unibet Champion Hurdle after Goshen returned to form in some style with a wide-margin victory in the Kingwell Hurdle.

The five-year-old accounted for Coral Hurdle and International Hurdle scorer Song For Someone by 22 lengths, as he blitzed the opposition at Wincanton on Saturday.

There is less than three weeks to the two-mile showpiece at the Cheltenham Festival, in which Goshen will bid to erase the frustration of his dramatic final-flight exit in the Triumph Hurdle last year when he had the race at his mercy.

“He’s come out of his race very well,” said West Sussex-based Moore on Wednesday.

“We’ll just do what we do and hopefully keep him on track for Cheltenham.

“I’ve done nothing with him. He’s just gone out for a jog around the place and nice easy exercise. He’s taking it all well and seems in good order. I’m very pleased with him.”

Stablemate Fifty Ball could well have booked his place at the Festival too, after beating all bar Soaring Glory in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Sunday.

The six-year-old put up a career-best performance in the one of the most competitive handicap hurdles on the calendar.

Moore has to decide which of his three entries – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’, Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and County Hurdle – Fifty Ball will take up.

“It would have been better if he’d have won, but he could not do any more than run the race of his life,” he said.

“I did expect him to run a big race, but I didn’t know if he was up to that company. He was just beaten by maybe a better horse on the day.

“He’s in a couple of novices and he’s in a handicap at Cheltenham. He could well end up there, but I don’t know which race at the moment.”

Nassalam on course for Cheltenham’s Triumph Trial

Nassalam is to put his Festival credentials on the line in the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham this month.

The four-year-old lost his unbeaten record in Britain when runner-up to Adagio in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow on Saturday, but trainer Gary Moore was delighted with the performance and the way Nassalam has taken the race.

The French import was sent off evens favourite for the Grade One after two wide-margin victories against vastly inferior opposition at Fontwell – and he just fell narrowly short on his steep rise in class.

“He’s come out of the race very well indeed. I’m very pleased the way he’s come out of it,” said his West Sussex trainer.

“It was a massive step up to what he’d done. The ground would have been quick enough for us. I think we’d be a bit better on softer ground.

“When they go round Chepstow in three minutes 56 seconds it’s not heavy ground, and our horse is probably more suited to heavy ground.

“It’s all a learning curve. It’s the first time he’s a been in a battle. He never raced on the Flat, and his wins have been uncompetitive.

“I was delighted. He just got beat by a better horse on the day.

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“He’ll probably go for the Trial at Cheltenham (on January 30) as long as the ground is soft.”

Moore reports his Champion Hurdle hope Goshen, meanwhile, on course for Sandown next month.

Goshen was found to have a fibrillating heart when last of 10 in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December, on his first run back over jumps since coming down at the final flight when holding a big lead in the Triumph in March.

“He’s on target for Sandown (Contenders’ Hurdle on February 6), very much so,” said Moore.

Goshen is likely to be back in action at Sandown next month
Goshen is likely to be back in action at Sandown next month (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“His work is good. I couldn’t be more pleased with him.”

Goshen is owned by Steven Packham, whose colours could be carried by Fifty Ball in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury next month.

The six-year-old is on a hat-trick after winning the last two of his four starts at Ascot and Sandown since he joined the Moore stable from France.

“He goes for the Betfair Hurdle. That will be his next run,” said the trainer.

Trainer Gary Moore is happy with Goshen ahead of his intended reappearance at Sandown
Trainer Gary Moore is happy with Goshen ahead of his intended reappearance at Sandown (Simon Cooper/PA)

“He was impressive at Sandown. I’m not sure how the race has turned out, but I know his previous run at Ascot was quite good.”

Benatar may line up next in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Clarence House Chase at Ascot on January 23 – depending how the field for the two-mile one-furlong Grade One takes shape at the five-day confirmation stage.

There were just 12 initial entries, and Moore would consider running the nine-year-old if he had a fair chance of picking up some prize money.

Benatar (near side) is a possible for the Clarence House Chase at Ascot
Benatar (near side) is a possible for the Clarence House Chase at Ascot (Steve Parsons/PA)

Benatar was a very encouraging third in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month, on his first start since January 2019.

“I will see what the five-day entries are like for the Clarence House,” said Moore.

“If he’s got a chance of nicking third or fourth prize he might run there. If not I’ll save him for something else.”

“We’ll look at the five-day stage and see what’s in it.

“It might cut up. Generally these two-mile races are cutting up.”