BARRY Geraghty once again stole the show at Kempton as he followed a remarkable recovery on Tetlami by sweeping up the feature William Hill Lanzarote Hurdle aboard his Nicky Henderson-trained stablemate Oscara Dara.
Known best for his immaculate positioning and judgement, the Irishman somehow prevented himself from being dislodged when Tetlami stumbled through the final fence of the first circuit of the williamhill.com Novices’ Chase and managed to shove his feet back in the irons as he turned into the country.
Ultimately, the 30-100 favourite raced to a convincing success, as did the well-backed Oscara Dara (5-1) later in the day. Asked for his gymnastic marks, Henderson said: “I think I’d give Barry a nine. He was lucky it was then, as there was time to recover. We’ve only just got [Tetlami] back and he’s had wind operations but he’s a good horse and has options on better ground in the spring.”
Oscara Dara’s own novice chasing career had stalled after he was beaten on his debut at Plumpton and he had not been convincing Henderson with his jumping of fences at home. He cruised into contention, and, although rather jolting Geraghty at the final flight, he was away and three-and-a-half-lengths clear of 100-1 shot Romeo Americo.
Henderson said: “We put him over hurdles, which was plan B, but I think we’ll have to stick with plan B at least for the time being, and have some fun over hurdles until the end of the season.”
Alan King does not seem to quite have the four-year-old strength of many recent seasons but L’Unique registers among his brightest hopes after she dismissed her opponents in the William Hill – No.1 Downloaded Betting App Juvenile Hurdle. The 4-5 favourite also landed her British debut at Aintree and was never in trouble from the front under Robert Thornton.The victory provided some cheer at the end of a trying week for King who lost his 2008 champion hurdler Katchit, as well as Lidar sustaining a serious injury at Lingfield.
Ian Popham, who only returned with a winner at Catterick earlier in the week on his comeback from a second serious pelvis injury, struck again in the William Hill iPad App Now Available Handicap Chase. Popham was patient on the Caroline Keevil-trained 9-4 favourite Bally Legend, biding his time as many around him made jumping errors, and he pushed the gelding away from Niceonefrankie to record a two-and-a-half-length victory.
“I’ve worked very hard to get back, and big thanks to all of those who supported me,” said Popham.