Tag Archive for: Nemean Lion

Nemean Lion heading for Champion Hurdle assignment

Kerry Lee is prepared to roll the dice and allow Nemean Lion to take his chance in the Unibet Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The seven-year-old has had a successful campaign so far, which began in October when he won the Welsh Champion Hurdle by a length and a half on debut.

He was fifth in the Greatwood at Cheltenham next time out and then ran an admirable race under a considerable amount of weight to finish the runner-up when stepping up in trip in the Lanzarote.

The Golden Horn gelding then tried Grade Two level to contest the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, a scaling back in trip as the race is run over a mile and seven furlongs.

There he was the 6-5 favourite under Richard Patrick and justified those odds when securing a length and a half success over fellow Champion Hurdle entrant Colonel Mustard.

The success has seen his mark rise from 145 to 151, and he is set to take his spot in a Champion Hurdle that this year might prove just more open than initially presumed.

“He’s been really good since Wincanton, he came out of the race very well,” said Lee, speaking before the market for the race was disrupted by the news that reigning hero Constitution Hill was a doubt after a below-par racecourse gallop on Tuesday morning.

“He loved the conditions and ran a great race, it was lovely to watch and we were really pleased with him.

“He wasn’t stopping at the end of the Lanzarote but he relished the two miles too, you’d have to say he was even better over the two.

“It’s all systems go for the Cheltenham Festival now, his target is going to be the Champion Hurdle.

“There are very few options for him and as long as the ground is good to soft or softer, he will run.

“It looks to be wide open for third and realistically in racing, anything can happen.

“I think off 151 he deserves the chance to prove himself so we can see what he can do.

“It is a pleasure to have such a good horse, we’ll keep our fingers crossed that he can go and run a good race but as long as he comes back safe and well then we’ll be happy.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Nemean Lion roars for Kerry Lee in Kingwell Hurdle

Nemean Lion justified strong market support to win the Jennings Bet Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton for Kerry Lee.

Lee decided against running the seven-year-old under a big weight in the Betfair Hurdle last weekend in favour of this Grade Two and the decision was vindicated.

Winner of the Welsh Champion Hurdle earlier in the season, Richard Patrick settled him just behind the front-running Rubaud, who Nemean Lion had replaced as favourite due to sustained money in the morning.

Sent off the 6-5 market leader, it looked like it was going to be plain sailing at the second-last as Rubaud dropped away tamely and Nemean Lion was pulling away from Colonel Mustard.

To the Irish raider’s credit, Colonel Mustard stuck to his task gamely and kept Nemean Lion honest, but there was a length and a half in it at the line.

Lee said: “We decided to wait for this and why take on 20 others when you can take on four!

“The thing with him off a mark of 145 it would have been very tough off top-weight (in the Betfair) – as we proved when second in the Lanzarote, it is very tough giving weight to unexposed horses so that is why we took in this race.

“He had an entry in the Rendlesham as well today, but I just wasn’t keen on going over three miles on heavy ground for the first time.

“We’re very lucky in that we’ve got a versatile horse, he’s got the speed for two miles, stays two-five and he wasn’t stopping there and it would be good to explore further – but at the same time we don’t need to.”

She went on: “I wouldn’t run him back quick as he puts everything into his races, we’ll just weigh everything up.

“I wouldn’t rule out Aintree (Aintree Hurdle), there’s a race on Irish National day at Fairyhouse he could go for, we’ve got lots of options and we’ll chat to the team and see which is the best one. We’ll enjoy today first.

“These days are great for a small yard like ours with 20-odd horses. He’s a real character, he loves being in a yard where he gets all the attention.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Kerry Lee planning to ‘shop around’ for Nemean Lion aim

Kerry Lee’s Nemean Lion has a whole host of options open to him after coming home the runner-up in the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle.

The seven-year-old began his season by winning the Welsh Champion Hurdle, a length-and-a-half success that then led him to Greatwood at Cheltenham where he was fifth under the burden of 12st.

In the Lanzarote only one of his 18 rivals shouldered more weight than him and under Richard Patrick he produced another fine run to go down by a length and a quarter to Dan Skelton’s Jay Jay Reilly.

The run was a step up to two miles and five furlongs for the gelding and provided ample proof that the extended trip was to his liking, leaving an array of hurdle races open to him as the season progresses.

“I was absolutely delighted with him, these big handicaps are a lottery and he was giving away a lot of weight,” said Lee.

“I think he’s run incredibly well, I’m very proud of him.

“He’s given us a lot more options after that, we can really shop around for which way to go now.”

Nemean Lion was a well-regarded performer on the Flat before joining Lee, finishing second in the Group Two Prix Chaudenay on his final start for Andre Fabre in 2020.

Over two years off the track followed due to injury and while soft ground is not mandatory, Lee is naturally mindful of preserving the horse’s soundness after waiting so long to campaign him under the National Hunt code.

Nemean Lion at Kempton
Nemean Lion at Kempton (John Walton/PA)

“I think he’s proven that he doesn’t need soft ground, it’s just that he is so fragile,” she said.

“When a horse has had two years off the track, you’ve got to respect that they’ve had an injury that could recur if you run them on the wrong ground.

“I’m very careful with him, I thought the ground at Kempton was absolutely beautiful and I walk the track every time before running him – or not as the case may be.”

Nemean Lion, who is by Golden Horn, holds entries in a host of races including the two key hurdle events at the Cheltenham Festival, though the Stayers’ is now more likely than the Champion Hurdle after his performance at Kempton.

“We’ve got to look at all our options, literally every single one of them, and get our heads together based on how the horse comes out of the race,” said Lee.

“We’ll look at everything, he has a cheeky entry in the Stayers’ and I think that would be a more likely option now than the Champion Hurdle – exciting times.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Lee backing Nemean Lion to roar over longer distance

Kerry Lee is relishing the chance to step Nemean Lion up in trip in Kempton’s Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle.

The seven-year-old has been a consistent performer for the Bell House handler and, following an encouraging novice campaign, won the Welsh Champion Hurdle on his reappearance before running with credit in the Greatwood.

However, having shown staying prowess on the Flat and also finding the scoresheet over an extended two-and-a-quarter miles at Kelso during his novice season, Lee has decided now is the time to try Nemean Lion’s hand over further.

She said: “It’s very exciting and as a Flat horse back in the day, he was a winner over staying trips and he was second in the Group Two Prix Chaudenay on heavy ground over two miles at Longchamp. On that basis, you have to assume he will get a trip.

“Possibly his best run to date was in a Grade Two at Kelso last spring, where he did all his best work at the end of the race and that was over two-and-a-quarter miles. This is only another couple of furlongs and there is no reason to doubt he will stay.

“He’s only just turned seven and I think Golden Horn horses are a little bit slower to mature than some, so he might just be coming into his prime.”

A quick look against Nemean Lion’s name will show entries for both the Champion Hurdle and the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

However, those lofty ambitions are firmly on the back burner for the time being, with Lee appreciating her stable star faces yet another stern challenge in the Kempton feature.

She added: “He’s got some crazy Cheltenham Festival entries in the Champion Hurdle and the Stayers’ Hurdle just in case things go exceptionally well, but I think you have to treat this kind of race with the respect it deserves and there are a lot of good horses in here.

“You’ve got a Betfair Hurdle winner (Aucunrisque) in there and Sonigino, who won well at Aintree before Christmas, not to mention Nicky Henderson’s runners – and it’s a very hot race.

“But Nemean Lion is a great horse and, off 140, we’re actually pleased not to be carrying top-weight for once. He’s a great horse to have and a lot of fun. He’s in rude health and has been ready to run for three weeks or so now and we’ve hung on to him until we got the ground we want for him.”

Nicky Henderson has won the Lanzarote four times in the past and saddles progressive pair Impose Toi and King Alexander in search of victory number five.

Impose Toi winning at Cheltenham in November
Impose Toi winning at Cheltenham in November (David Davies/PA)

The former was only a neck away from registering a hat-trick when mistakes at the final two flights of hurdles ultimately stopped him reeling in stablemate Luccia, but now has the chance to gain some compensation and is the big-race favourite with the sponsors.

“He ran a cracker at Ascot and just missed the last two a little bit,” said Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus.

“He was probably a little bit unlucky, but this is a nice race for him and Nicky is very happy with him. We’ll learn a bit more about him and we’re looking forward to it and hoping for the best.”

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls is also double-handed, with Ditcheat number one Harry Cobden electing to ride impressive Aintree scorer Sonigino and Bryony Frost taking the reins aboard Irish Hill.

Sonigino winning at Aintree
Sonigino winning at Aintree (Richard Sellers/PA)

“The Lanzarote has been the plan for Sonigino from the moment he bolted in at Aintree early last month,” Nicholls told Betfair when assessing the seven-year-old’s chances.

“He has progressed nicely this season and was well suited by stepping back up in trip at Aintree, where he looked like the winner a long way from home.

“The key to his improvement is that he is settling better in his races with experience. He was raised 6lb after Aintree and will not find things easy under top weight.”

It has been some time since Up For Parol has found the scoresheet, but Jamie Snowden’s eight-year-old made the podium in this race 12 months ago after being sixth in 2022 and now tries to make it third time lucky off an ever-decreasing mark.

Jamie Snowden hopes to see Up For Parol make it third time lucky in the Lanzarote
Jamie Snowden hopes to see Up For Parol make it third time lucky in the Lanzarote (Mike Egerton/PA)

Snowden said: “He’s run in this race the last two years and was only beaten eight lengths off a mark of 133 a couple of years ago and was third in it last year off 129, and he comes in it here off 126.

“We would have appreciated a little bit softer ground perhaps but he’s in good order and fingers crossed he can run a decent race.”

Joe Anderson hit the headlines with his miraculous recovery at Plumpton recently and now rekindles what has previously been a successful partnership with Neil Mulholland’s Mothill.

The six-year-old struck at Uttoxeter in the hands of Anderson in the spring and, after a pair of outings on the Flat, was ridden by Jonjo O’Neill Jr when hosing up at Sedgefield on Boxing Day.

“I would say that he has got a good old chance,” said Anderson. “It is a super competitive race, and he will have to step up again, but he is a progressive young horse that has the right sort of profile for a race like this, as he is a strong traveller that stays very well.

“He went up five pounds for his last win, but my claim takes care of that, and he did it nicely up at Sedgefield.

“He got the job done at Uttoxeter and then he was good at Sedgefield the other day. He hasn’t really raced in a big field, but this race should suit him and he is a horse going the right way.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Nemean Lion backed to roar again in Greatwood Hurdle

Kerry Lee is respectful of the opposition as Nemean Lion remains on track for the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham but reports her charge in fine spirits.

The six-year-old is among the favourites and a 6-1 chance with the sponsors for the prestigious handicap, having backed up some smart novice hurdles form with a win in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las on his reappearance.

That victory means Nemean Lion will have to carry top-weight at Prestbury Park but although his handler is not one for bullish predictions, she has been delighted with her charge since his return to action last month.

Lee said: “He’s been amazing, really good. I think he had a harder run than we first thought (at Ffos Las), but he has bounced back well and I’ve been really happy with his work the last week and fingers crossed he can continue to improve and progress.

“I will never say I’m confident and we always go with hope rather than confidence. The Kelso form is there to be respected, but there is lots of other good horses in the race with decent form as well themselves.

“It’s a hot race and there is no way you can go into it with any confidence and expectation, we’ll just go there, give it a crack and hope for the best.”

Knickerbockerglory is a possible runner in the Greatwood Hurdle
Knickerbockerglory is a possible runner in the Greatwood Hurdle (Simon Marper/PA)

Nemean Lion is one of 18 confirmed for Sunday’s contest, with Dan Skelton’s recent Ascot winner Knickerbockerglory and stablemate L’Eau Du Sud, as well as Nicky Henderson’s Luccia, among those towards the head of the sponsor’s betting.

Unibet have Irish raider Onlyamatteroftime as their market leader, with the seven-year-old set to make his first start for Willie Mullins, while recent track-and-trip winner Lookaway and last year’s runner-up Gin Coco are other notable names among the list of possibles.

Jonbon is the headline attraction in the supporting Shloer Chase, which has attracted a maximum field of six.

Nicky Henderson’s star chaser stepped out of novice company to win Sandown’s Celebration Chase in the spring but could face a sterner examination here, with former Arkle winner Edwardstone and fellow 2022 Cheltenham Festival scorer Banbridge both joining defending champion Nube Negra among the potential runners.

Gary Moore’s Clarence House Chase winner Editeur Du Gite and Henry de Bromhead’s recent track-and-trip victor Dancing On My Own complete the entries.

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Kerry Lee sets out Greatwood goal for Nemean Lion

Kerry Lee’s Nemean Lion has the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle in his sights after a pleasing victory on seasonal debut at Ffos Las.

The six-year-old was a Grade Two-winning novice last season when taking Premier Novices’ Hurdle at Kelso but still looked to have taken strides forward with an assured round of jumping in the Welsh Champion Hurdle.

The latter run under rider Richard Patrick has seen his rating rise to 140, the mark he will carry at Cheltenham on November 19.

“He’s entered in the Greatwood, he’s had a pop this morning and he seems in great form,” said Lee.

“We’re very happy with the way he’s come out (of Ffos Las), he’s gone up 5lb so he goes into the Greatwood off 140 – onwards and upwards hopefully.

“He did everything right, he was much more the professional and it was really reassuring to see that, having been quite so novicey in his novice season.

“We’ve worked hard, Richard has worked hard to hone his jumping technique and he looked to really enjoy himself and relish the hurdles.”

Alongside a Grade Two success last term, Nemean Lion was also third in the Grade One Tolworth, though Lee is mindful that the gelding will need to step forward again if he is to mix it in the same company this year.

“For that to happen he’d need to be rated a little higher, so we’d need a good run in the Greatwood and then we can really look and see how to shape our season,” she said.

“The Greatwood isn’t the be-all and end-all and if the ground doesn’t lend itself then there are options, but for now we’ll focus on that and see what happens.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Nemean Lion roars to Premier victory for Kerry Lee

Sandown third Nemean Lion gave the Tolworth Hurdle form a boost as he got the better of the fourth on that occasion, Colonel Harry, to pick up the bet365 Premier Novices’ Hurdle at Kelso.

The Kerry Lee-trained six-year-old was the best part of three lengths ahead of Colonel Harry when they clashed on deep ground in January and Richard Patrick was content to bide his time in mid-division aboard the 4-1 winner as Jamie Snowden’s 7-2 favourite attempted to make all.

Gavin Sheehan upped the tempo after three out as the pack began to swarm and he did a good job of putting the field under pressure and beating off most of the opposition as he swung into the straight still in command of the contest.

However, old adversary Nemean Lion was still travelling and having jumped the last matching strides, a slight error from Colonel Harry allowed the Will Roseff-owned gelding to strike the front and it was he who roared loudest at the finish to come home the best part of two lengths clear.

Lee said: “We’re absolutely delighted with the horse. It took us seven hours to get here, but it was absolutely worth it.

“He came here with a good performance under his belt and we were hopeful. It was a good, solid performance from him.

“Colonel Harry was one of the big dangers, I know they were sweet on their horse, and it was interesting that the Grade One horses did come to the fore.

“We’ve clearly got a very nice horse on our hands. I think he appreciated the track. I don’t think the distance was an issue, I just think he didn’t relish the hill at Sandown and Kelso is a little bit kinder in that respect.”

The winner holds an entry for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with Betfair going 25-1 from 50s for the Prestbury Park opener, but Lee admits that looks unlikely at present.

She added: “I would say on two levels that Cheltenham is not very likely. First of all the ground, he’s quite a fragile horse and we have to be very careful – we came to Kelso for that reason, for the ground.

“I don’t think the ground at Cheltenham will suit and it would be very quick on him.

“I won’t be pushing for Cheltenham but that said, if it came up soft and he was bouncing, then we might consider it.

“We will be looking to Aintree, Fairyhouse and Punchestown, keeping our options open.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns