Balder Succes the one to beat in Pendil Chase at Kempton
Many pundits felt that Balder Succes had done enough to earn a tilt at the Arkle Trophy with his recent Warwick victory but the owners are more enthusiastic about Liverpool and Punchestown. The formerly smart hurdler bounced back from a poor run at Sandown to win the Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices’ Chase in good style.
It was his jumping that proved decisive, putting his rivals under pressure a long way from home with only Brick Red able to give chase. Alan King’s six-year-old has won over just short of two and a half miles on his chasing bow at Chepstow so stamina should not be a problem.
He is arguably unlucky to have been beaten over fences, having fallen when blinded by the sun at Cheltenham. He was well in command at that stage of the race and would surely have beaten Dark Lover had he stood up.
His only other defeat came when the stable were clearly out of sorts, finishing down the field in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown in December. With the yard now back in form, this looks an ideal opportunity to establish himself among the leading novices.
Fox Appeal is his main danger on official figures but he disappointed slightly when only third to Valdez at Doncaster. He had looked a lively contender for the Arkle when he slammed Raya Star by ten lengths at Ascot in December but the runner-up may not have been at his best that day.
Loose Chips looks a hard ride but he keeps responding to pressure and you would imagine Noel Fehily will be trying to make the most of his stamina here. Charlie Longsdon’s battled on well to hold off Ohio Gold over course and distance in December and followed up at Huntingdon.
Dark Lover has been beaten three times since benefitting from the fall of Balder Succes at Cheltenham. He was never in contention behind Indian Castle at the same venue last month.
The Adonis Hurdle includes several Triumph Hurdle entries including French import Alcala and Irish flat winner Agreement. Preference is for Harry Fry’s Activial who can boost the Cheltenham prospects of Newbury conqueror Calipto.
Selections: 1.30 Ballinvarrig, 2.05 Activial, 2.40 Balder Succes, 3.15 Irving, 3.50 Ardkilly Witness, 4.25 Royal Player, 4.50 Aqalim