LAST year’s Lexus Chase was, for me, THE race of the National Hunt season. Tidal Bay’s dramatic late lunge between Flemenstar and First Lieutenant was a remarkable performance and a ride of legendary proportions by Ruby Walsh. This year’s Lexus has something to live up to but connections of Bobs Worth are hoping it will mark a return to form for the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.
Nicky Henderson wants the tough-as-teak gelding to have a busier campaign than last season when he ran only twice. But the trainer will also be praying he shows more pazzazz than on his seasonal reappearance in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.
He never looked happy that day from some way out and was eventually eased home in sixth of the eight runners about 40 lengths behind the winner Cue Card. At least Barry Geraghty looked after him once it was obvious he wasn’t going to win, so he didn’t have a hard race.
Malcolm Kimmins, head of the syndicate of Bobs Worth owners The Not Afraid Partnership, said: “He will probably be declared for the Lexus Chase in the latest forfeit stage on Thursday. He will do a piece of work at the weekend and we’ll take it from there, but at the moment it’s looking like he’ll be running.”
The Lexus is the highlight of the Leopardstown Christmas meeting on December 28.
Meanwhile, the brilliant Sprinter Sacre has been confirmed an intended runner in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on December 27 after recovering from the minor illness that ruled him out of the Tingle Creek earlier this month.
He will be attempting to extend his unbeaten record over fences to 11 races although he is likely to face Tingle Creek winner Sire de Grugy, who could give him something to think about on Kempton’s flat track.
Officials at Kempton are understandably cock-a-hoop that the appearance of Jump racing’s biggest star will boost the crowd. If the “Black Aeroplane” can’t entice people to go racing, then nothing will…
It is less than 12 weeks to the Cheltenham Festival and it is well worth bookmarking the Racing Post’s Cheltenham Festival microsite to keep in touch with all the very latest Cheltenham Festival news.