Cheltenham Chatter – Kemboy Conundrum

It’s that time of year when canny ante-post punters avidly hunt for quotes from connections, regarding the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival. Who has been letting the cat out of the bag, this week?

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Kemboy Could Get Neptune Nod

Steve Massey, racing manager at the Supreme Horse Racing Club indicated that Kemboy looks bound for the Festival, following a very respectable defeat at Leopardstown.

“He was a little bit green at the top of the straight, but finished off his race really well and you have to be pleased with finishing second in a Grade Two on just your second run.

“Hopefully he’s done enough to book his ticket across the water. Willie’s initial thoughts were to step up to three miles in the Albert Bartlett, but he’s also been entered in the Neptune.

“I’m sure no decision will be made until much nearer the time, but he’s a horse we think a lot of and he should have learned plenty from his run the other day.”

Decision Time Looms For Debuchet

Mags Mullins has still not decided if Debuchet will contest the Champion Bumper, but he’s another that could be making the trip to Gloucestershire.

“I think he’s smart and he’s improving the whole time,” said the County Kilkenny trainer. I’m not sure yet what we’re going to do. We’ll see how it plays out and how he comes on.

“If he’s forward enough he might go to Cheltenham, if he’s not he won’t. We haven’t decided yet. We’ll let him tell us. We’ll give him a week but he came out of his race very well.”

Thistlecrack Still On Track

Thistlecrack’s owner, Heather Snook, remains bullish following his defeat by the sadly-departed Many Clouds in the Cotswold Chase.

“It was a very sad day after what happened to Many Clouds and our sympathy is with his owner, his trainer and everyone involved with him.

“As far as Thistlecrack goes, there was initial disappointment, but we weren’t disappointed to be beaten by Many Clouds. There was no disgrace in that.

“It went down to the bob of the head and reminded me of when Cue Card beat Vautour in the King George last year. Neither horse lost anything in defeat that day, either.

“Thistlecrack was exceptional in the King George, but the ground was so different the other day and Cheltenham is very different to Kempton, obviously.

“I think of all the factors, the ground was probably the biggest one, but I don’t want to take anything away from Many Clouds, who performed brilliantly on the day and it’s just so sad what happened to him.”

Trainer Says Chill, To Champ Cheerleaders

Nicky Henderson was keen to keep a lid on the hype surrounding Champ, who punters are already nibbling at for the Champion Bumper. The JP McManus-owned horse won readily, on debut at Southwell.

“I suppose it’s a name they’ve been holding back for a while and he is a very good-looking horse with a very good pedigree.

“He did it well, but he is still a big baby. I think he’d want to be doing something like that again before we think about doing anything too grown-up.

“I wouldn’t be thinking of Cheltenham myself. I spoke to Barry after the race and I think he’d rather keep him low-profile for the time being.

“He should really be over hurdles, but he wasn’t doing what I was expecting him to be doing earlier in the season. I wasn’t all that happy with him at Christmas.

“He’s done masses of schooling and we can go novice hurdle next season and chasing later on. He has his whole life ahead of him. He’s still the undefeated Champ, but he’s not a champ yet.”

Hales’ Horse Homing-In On The JLT

Politologue now seems unlikely to take part in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown on Saturday and owner John Hales is already focused on getting the grey ready for the Festival.

“I don’t think he’s going to run at the weekend. We just need to wind him down a bit as he was wired up at Haydock and nearly pulled Sam Twiston-Davies’ arms out going down.

“We don’t want to put him in a hot race again just yet. We want to find another race before Cheltenham to get him settled and relaxed. He’s a fabulous horse – one of the best I’ve have ever had. The JLT is the plan.”

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