Horses To Follow » Kempes


Kempes was a good winner of the featured Nas Na Riogh Chase, the feature race, somewhat unusually, at Thurles on Friday. Davy Russell set out to make all on the well-backed and highly talented Jagoes Mills, and he had his closest pursuers Taravada and main market rival An Cathaoir Mor in trouble well before the turn for home, but Ruby Walsh had been making stealthy headway on Kempes from the back, and he moved threateningly in behind Jagoes Mills on the run to the second last. He jumped that obstacle well and picked up impressively between the last two fences to get the better of the long-time leader, jumped the last well and kept on well up the run-in to post an impressive win.

This was just Kempes’s second attempt at two and a half miles in Ireland, and he seemed to appreciate the more thorough test of stamina, which is hardly surprising given that he won over a mile as a two-year-old and that he landed an Ulster Derby over a mile and five furlongs as a three-year-old for Frances Crowley. A good two-mile novice hurdler last season, he made his chasing debut over two and a half at Clonmel in December, when he was hampered at the second last and could finish only second to Tinakellylad. He then got beaten at long odds-on at Thurles by See U Bob, but that horse is a lot better than was widely accepted at the time, as evidenced by his run to finish a close second to Citizen Vic in a good novices’ chase at Leopardstown last Sunday. Kempes made no mistake next time, beating Nicanor in a twp-mile contest at Fairyhouse, and he had no difficulty with the step up to two and a half on Friday. Indeed, he seemed to improve for it. A high class novice hurdler last season, a Grade 2 winner and sent off as short as 9/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, he could prove to be a very useful chaser as well, and the fact that he handled this soft ground well and stayed the two and a half mile trip augurs well. He should be even better back on better ground. Trainer Willie Mullins has a clutch of top two-and-a-half-mile novice chasers, but Kempes wouldn’t be at all out of place in a Powers Gold Cup.

26th February 2010