Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cheltenham winner Bensalem out for season

Barbury Castle-based Alan King has announced that Bensalem, a brave winner at the Cheltenham Festival in March, will be out for the whole of the 2011/12 season having failed to recover from an injury sustained on his final start last term, writes Elliot Slater.

Always held in high regard by King and his staff, Bensalem atoned for a desperately unlucky fall at the second from home in the race 12 months earlier when coasting along in the hands of regular partner Robert Thornton, by staying-on bravely and making no mistake in defeating the tenacious Carole's Legacy in the Grade 3 Stewart Family Spinal Research Handicap Chase having been sent off at just 5/1 in the ultra-competitive 19-runner handicap. Those following tips for Cheltenham betting would have been impressed.

Three weeks after his big race victory at Cheltenham the eight-year-old arrived at Aintree to contest the listed John Smith's Handicap Chase and the Aintree tips indicated he was in with every chance before he blundered badly at the second from home and eventually trailed in fifth, 8-lengths behind winner Prince Du Beauchene.

It was soon revealed that Bensalem had sustained a leg injury when making such a bad error at the penultimate fence and despite plenty of rest since veterinary advice was clear that the gelded son of Turtle Island should be given a complete break from training and he has now been sent over to Ireland for 12 months rest and recuperation.

Obviously disappointed to be losing one of his stable stars for the whole term, King nonetheless feels that Bensalem will come back and that time will prove the best healer in this situation. If returning next term as a nine-year-old there will still be plenty of time for the popular performer to get back on the winning trail and realise the potential that has been there for all to see since he ran the mighty mare Quevega to just three-lengths when runner-up to the Willie Mullins-trained star in the Grade 1 World Series Hurdle at Punchestown in May 2010.

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