Monday, March 5, 2012

Champion Court on course for big win in Jewson Chase

Champion Court will return to his beloved Cheltenham racecourse on March 15 to contest the Grade 2 Jewson Novices' Chase, a race his trainer Martin Keighley believes will suit his talented gelding best of the four contests in which he is entered at the forthcoming Festival meeting, writes Elliot Slater.

The strapping seven-year-old, a brave fourth to Bob's Worth in last season's Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at the showcase fixture, has proved himself a highly talented novice chaser this term after an inauspicious start when unseating Tony McCoy at the third from home at Perth in September on his chasing bow when looking likely to open his account at the first time of asking. That experience was clearly not lost on the son of Court Cave who duly justified favouritism on his second run over fences at Aintree a few weeks later. Those following the 2012 ante-post Cheltenham Festival betting will have been impressed.

In hindsight, being asked to give 5lbs to Grand Crus at Cheltenham in November in the Steel Plate and Sections Novice Chase was all but attempting the impossible, but in finishing a 10-length second he still stamped himself a very capable performer. His effort back at the Prestbury track some four weeks later when a distant third to Join Together can be forgiven as he clearly failed to stay the three-and-a-quarter-miles and was out on his feet before the final fence.

Dropped back to his optimum trip of two miles, fivefurlongs, (the distance of the Jewson Chase), at Newbury on New Year's Day, Champion Court did everything right in showing a clean pair of heel to Nicky Henderson's talented Solix in the Grade 2 Dipper Novices Chase, and Keighley rightly believes that a similar performance is sure to place his charge bang in the reckoning back at Cheltenham in the big novices chase for which his main Festival hope is currently on offer at 10/1 for the race formerly known as the Golden Miller Chase.

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