Horses To Follow » Kalahari King

Kalahari King

It had been reported in the week prior to the Grade 1 Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot on Saturday that trainer Ferdy Murphy was seriously contemplating aiming Kalahari King at the two-mile-five-furlong Ryanair rather than the Champion Chase again in which he finished third last year (ahead of Master Minded) at 9/2. His run on Saturday certainly suggested that a step up in trip could be just what he needs now.

He was slightly unsighted at the very first fence as the returning Crack Away Jack jumped across him which cost him some early momentum and it seemed that the others were always just going a half a stride too fast for Kalahari King. He had got himself, together with Tchico Polos and Crack Away Jack, to within eight lengths of the lead at the first fence down the side, seven from the finish. His chance was completely ended though when he was taken very wide and nearly forced off the track at the fifth last by the stricken Petit Robin. He ran on very strongly from the home turn though, making up close to 15 lengths on the third Mad Max from the second last to the finish.

It seems logical to go for the Ryanair now as Kalahari King seems to lack the pace for championship two mile races, and, while he does strive on Cheltenham Festival conditions, having finished a close second in the 2009 Arkle on top of that third in the Champion last season, he would have a lot of ground to make up on Master Minded (and to a lesser extent Somersby) on their meetings this term, as well as the defending champion Big Zeb. He has run over two and a half miles three times in his life, one of those was when falling early on in the Melling Chase last April but the other two he won, one a 24-runner hurdle at Punchestown and the other a novice chase at Musselburgh, so it is surprising that it has taken Murphy so long to try him over the distance again. He certainly has the class to win a Ryanair, and with the two stellar performers set to once again lock horns in the two-mile division, the longer race looks like it will take a lot less winning. He is one of less than a handful of definite intended runners in the race at present, and he looks over-priced for it at 12/1.

22nd January 2011