Akle hope Josses Hill can pass Kempton test with flying colours
Josses Hill has his final prep run ahead of a crack at the Arkle at next month’s Cheltenham Festival in the 2m 4f graduation chase at Kempton today (3.05), and looks a worthy odds-on shot to make his class tell and get the job done with minimal fuss.
The seven-year-old joined trainer Nicky Henderson after finishing a highly promising second of 22 to Faugheen on his debut in a bumper at Punchestown, and developed into one of the best novice hurdlers of last season.
After an impressive bow over the obstacles at Newbury, Josses Hill went down by just 1/2 a length to stable companion Royal Boy in the Tolworth Hurdle at Kempton, before running a stormer to finish a six length second of 18 to Vautour in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
This gelding went on to round off the campaign with an easy six length success in a Grade 2 contest at Aintree, and looked the type to do even better over fences.
Josses Hill is a strapping sort with tons of scope and, although turned over at odds-on on his debut over the larger obstacles at Ascot when beaten nine lengths into second behind Ptit Zig, he ran far too keenly on his first start for 259 days and made too many mistakes as a result.
That was also a Grade 2 contest and the winner is a very useful sort, who had race fitness on his side, and has since gone on to land a hot contest at Cheltenham in good style.
In the cirumstances it was a decent run from Josses Hill, and he duly built on that effort to open his account over the larger obstacles at Doncaster last month.
Josses Hill settled much better, jumping soundly in the main and when asked for a big leap at the last by Barry Geraghty picked up in tremendous style to wing it and win going away by 2 1/4 lengths from Solar Impulse under hand riding.
It was a most pleasing performance and one which suggested the son of Winged Love was learning all the time, and had plenty more to offer.
Geraghty has made no secret that he believes Josses Hill is the real deal who has the potential to go right to the top over fences, and the horse has reportedly been extensively schooled and jumping very well at home since Donny.
He does face a couple of interesting rivals this afternoon, most notably Caesar Milan who scored in good style when beating the highly regarded Whisper by 3 1/4 lengths at Exeter on just his second start over fences. The favourite is a class act, and it will be a major shock if Josses Hill, currently a tasty 7/1 shot with Coral for the Arkle, doesn’t land the spoils.