Top Irish handler Willie Mullins is favouring a return to action in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal for 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup ante post favourite Kemboy.
The seven-year-old has won seven of his 11 starts over fences and took his form to a new level last season when winning all but one of his five starts.
After victories in the Grade 2 Clonmel Oil and Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown during the first half of the campaign, he unseated his rider at the first when sent off a well-backed 8/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Kemboy then showed that to be a blip when romping to a facile nine length success over Clans Des Obeaux at Aintree before going on to round off the campaign with a two length success obet stable companion Al Boum Photo, who had previously triumphed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, by two lengths.
He is the general 6-1 favourite to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the second attempt, and Mullins hopes to see him return to action in the Grade 1 Northern Ireland contest over 3m on on November 2. The Closutton handler, the most successful in the history of the Cheltenham Festival, told At The Races: “We’ve put him in the race at Down Royal and we will see how he is working. It is so far so good and I’m very happy with what he is doing at home.
“I didn’t want to enter any other horses for the race and rush them to it. This fellow comes right a bit quicker and it is a nice race to aim him at.”
Plans fluid for Al Boum Photo and Klassical Dream
There are currently no firm plans for Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo, who is a top priced 8/1 with William Hill to retain his crown next March, and Mullins is still pondering where and when to bring this year’s Supreme Novies’ Hurdle winner Klassical Dream – the 7/2 favourite with Betfred for the 2020 Champion Hurdle – back to action.
“Al Boum Photo is good and I’m very happy with the progress he is making,” said Mullins.
“I don’t really know where I will start him. I want to get some good cut in the ground and real winter weather before I start him off. I just want to keep him training and make a plan when the right opportunity arises.
“Klassical Dream might go to Down Royal (WKD Hurdle), but I would say that the Morgiana in Punchestown is more likely where we will start him off. He has been very good at home.”
Thyme Hill impresses in Persian War
Top class bumper performer Thyme Hill made an impressive start over the obstacles when landing the Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow.
The Philip Hobbs trained five-year-old, who had finished a fine 2 3/4 length third of 14 to Envoi Allen in the Grade 1 Champion Bumper at this year’s Cheltenham Festival when last seen in action, showed real battling qualities to beat Colin Tizzard’s Fiddlerontheroof by two lengths.
Thyme Hill looked in trouble two from home when the pace quickened, but jockey Richard Johnson didn’t panic and brought him with strong run approaching the final flight.
The son of Kayf Tara then dug deep to hit the front 150 yards from home and win going away at the line.
I thought it was a most pleasing introduction in what looked a decent renewal of the Persian War and he looks destined to win plenty of more race this season.
Thyme Hill is currently a 20/1 shot with Paddy Power for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and should all go to plan he could well prove himself a leading contender for that Grade 1 contest run over 2m 5f.
Speaking after the race, a clearly delighted Hobbs said: “He impressed us over the summer and given that Cheltenham form he obviously came here with a good chance. He did that nicely and jumped well throughout. I’m not sure what’s next, we’ll have to see how it comes out of it all.”
Jarvey’s Plate guns down Tank on chasing debut
Jarvey’s Plate is a top priced 25/1 with Paddy Power for the JLT Novices’ Chase at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival after lowering the colours of the highly-touted Reserve Tank on debut over the larger obstacles in a Listed 2m 3f contest at Chepstow.
The Fergal O’Brien-trained six year-old had been a useful novice hurdler last season, winning at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
After jumping slowly and making a mistake early doors, Jarvey’s Plate gradually warmed and produced a fine leap at the last when driven to challenge Colin Tizzard’s dual Grade 1 novice hurdler. He then quickened smartly on the run-in to score readily by four lengths, with the runner-up merely plodding on and carrying his head awkwardly.
There appeared to be no excuses for Reserve Tank, who was sent off the 4/5 favourite, and Jarvey’s Plate looks the type who should have plenty more to offer. His jumping still requires sharpening up, but that will come with experience and I thought he was visually impressive and value for a bit more than the winning margin.
Given the way in which he disposed of Reserve Tank, who is now a general 16/1 shot for the JLT, he looks like an exciting chasing recruit and a horse for O’Brien to go to war with in the new season.