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Goshen roars back into Champion Hurdle picture

Goshen reignited his Champion Hurdle claims with an impressive victory in the Betway Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.

Out of luck after falling at the final flight with the Triumph Hurdle at his mercy 12 months ago, Gary Moore’s five-year-old blew the opposition away with a devastating display as he returned to his best form of last season.

He settled well for Jamie Moore, who allowed Navajo Pass to give him a lead until the business end of the race.

Kicking on after jumping three from home, the 100-30 victor quickly put daylight between himself and his rivals.

Song For Someone, the 11-10 favourite, appeared to struggle to compete with the early pace, but came through to finish a never-nearer second – 22 lengths behind the easy winner. Navajo Pass was third.

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Goshen was cut to 5-1 from 16-1 for the Champion Hurdle with Paddy Power, and to the same price with Coral from 20-1.

Moore senior said: “I was very pleased, over the moon.

“I didn’t know what to expect. I knew I had him in a good place and fair play to Jamie. He told me when he worked him on Tuesday he would win.

“I was just hoping he would do what he has done today.

“It has to be the Champion Hurdle next. It has always been the target since last year. We’re hoping we can go there with every chance.

“Hopefully there’s a little bit of improvement to come from him.

“He settled lovely today. He doesn’t have to make the running, He just wants his own space.”

Jamie Moore suffered heartbreak with Goshen at Cheltenham last year
Jamie Moore suffered heartbreak with Goshen at Cheltenham last year (Simon Cooper/PA)

Equally thrilled was the winning jockey, who said: “It was a very rewarding performance. Just pleased to get him somewhere near his best for dad and the owners.

“We wouldn’t have run him if we didn’t think he was right. His last bit of work on Tuesday was very good and we’ve been happy with him. We wanted to go to Sandown a couple of weeks ago and it was called off. It’s good we’ve got a run into him.

“Dad has tried a different training regime with the horse and it’s worked. The horse has enjoyed it and we’ve got him fit in different ways.”

The jockey knows more still might be needed at Cheltenham, however.

“We’re going to look forward to the Champion Hurdle, but it’s going to be no easy task,” he said.

“Epatante didn’t run great at Kempton, but it shows horses aren’t machines. Goshen came back today and she could come back at Cheltenham.

“We’re going to wait and hope he’s in good form on the day.”

Navajo Pass tests credentials again in Kingwell

Donald McCain is keen to discover whether Navajo Pass can back up his surprise Haydock victory in Wincanton’s Betway Kingwell Hurdle.

Sean Quinlan steered Navajo Pass to an all-the-way success as the outsider of three in Grade Two company last time out, winning by four and a quarter lengths from dual Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D’Air.

Saturday’s Wincanton feature is another Grade Two event, and McCain believes a good run will solidify the five-year-old’s form from Merseyside.

Navajo Pass, ridden by Sean Quinlan, on his way to winning The New One Unibet Hurdle
Navajo Pass, ridden by Sean Quinlan, on his way to winning The New One Unibet Hurdle (David Davies/PA)

“He’s in good nick – we’re going to go for it,” said the Cheshire trainer.

“We were delighted with Haydock, and it’s the obvious next race for him – there are no other races for him, to be honest.

“We’ll go and take a punt and we’ll see.”

McCain is mindful that Buveur D’Air’s run in The New One Hurdle was his first after a 420-day break – and he will hold off on making spring Festival plans until after this weekend.

“You could question the form at Haydock, so we’ll see if that stacks up before we worry about anything else,” he said.

“We’re always looking to go somewhere in the spring, but he is still a young horse.”

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Song For Someone, last year’s Kingwell winner, also lines up in Somerset.

Tom Symond's Song For Someone
Tom Symond’s Song For Someone (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The Tom Symonds-trained six-year-old was a half-length winner of the 2020 renewal, which was relocated to Kempton after Storm Dennis left Wincanton unable to host the meeting.

That victory was the first of a current three-race unbeaten spell for the chestnut, who this season has won the Coral Hurdle at Ascot and the International Hurdle at Cheltenham – both of which are Grade Twos.

Symonds expects this weekend’s rivals to pose an even greater challenge, but hopes his stable star can continue his ascent and smooth a path to one of the big spring hurdle prizes.

“Fingers crossed, he’s in good form,” he said.

“We’re really pleased with how he’s been since the International, but he’s got to step up again and give his penalties away.

“He’s really well, but it’s going to be hard work for all of them in the ground. It will be interesting to see how he goes against Navajo Pass – and with Goshen running again, we’re looking forward to it.

“Provided the script is read right then we’ll look at either Cheltenham or Aintree in the spring, but we’ll see what happens here first really. That’s how we’ll go forward with him.”

Song For Someone (left) and Goshen (right) during the Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham
Song For Someone (left) and Goshen (right) during the Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Gary Moore’s Goshen will also take his chance as a tilt at Cheltenham’s Champion Hurdle hangs in the balance.

The five-year-old looked a runaway winner of the Triumph Hurdle last season when unseating Jamie Moore at the last flight, but has struggled to rediscover his best form in three subsequent runs – the first two of which were on the Flat.

As Song For Someone triumphed in the International Hurdle in December, Goshen made his hurdling return but appeared out of sorts when finishing a near 30-length last of 10.

In the aftermath he was reported to be suffering from a fibrillating heart, but Moore has now clarified that was not the case.

“He never did have a fibrillating heart,” he said.

“That was a misunderstanding, so we can forget that. It was a mix-up in conversation.”

Cheltenham still remains the target – but a below-par Kingwell run could see that plan altered.

“We hope he’ll go very well – he’s very well at home,” said Moore.

“Saturday will tell us everything, unless there’s plenty of excuses.

“The next step will hopefully be the Champion Hurdle, but if he doesn’t give a good account of himself at the weekend, then we’ll have to think of something else.”

Completing the field are Paul Nicholls’ Friend Or Foe, William de Best-Turner’s outsider Calgary Tiger and Evan Williams’ Esprit Du Large – who reverts to hurdles after experiencing mixed fortunes during a spell over fences.