Monday, February 7, 2011

Medermit emerges as a genuine Arkle contender

When the Alan King-trained Medermit refused while leading at Huntingdon on his second novice chase outing back in November, few observers would have genuinely reckoned that the talented grey would in fact prove good enough to win the Grade 1 Totepool Challenger Novices' Chase, (better known as the Scilly Isles Novices Chase) at Sandown, but that is exactly what he did on Saturday, winning in the style of a potentially very smart performer, writes Elliot Slater.

King has never lost faith in the grey son of Medaaly who proved good enough to fail by only a neck to catch the smart Go Native in the 2009 Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and finished seventh to Binocular in the Champion Hurdle a year later. A lot of focus will be on the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting odds when the Festival rolls around, but Medermit looks like he should be able to claim glory in one of the other high-profile races.

Medermit's Huntingdon antics followed a perfectly easy win on his chasing bow at Aintree in October, and he duly got back on track when wining with something to spare at Plumpton on December. Just run out of it at Cheltenham in Grade 2 company by the useful Hell's Bay, Medermit showed that he had his mind back on the job and at Sandown he jumped for fun before going clear at the last, only to do what so many horses have down on the Esher run-in over the years and idle in front, allowing Captain Chris to come with a late rattle which Robert Thornton's mount held after rallying well inside the last 50 yards to score by half-a-length.

The seven-year-old immediately advanced to 6/1 favourite for the two-and-a-half miles Jewson Novices' Chase at Cheltenham 2011, and was cut to the same price for the Arkle chase over the minimum trip, for which Finian's Rainbow (4/1f) and Ghizao (5/1) are the current market front-runners. A decision as to which race will be chosen for Medermit has yet to be taken.

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