Kabral Du Mathan added his name to an ever-growing list of horses that are likely to feature for Paul Nicholls at the Cheltenham Festival in March after making his British debut a triumphant one in the Weatherbys Chatteris Fen Juvenile Hurdle at Huntingdon today.
Arriving from France on the back of a victory at Clairefontaine in July the gelded son of Pastorius maintained his unbeaten record when successfully giving away eight pounds to all of his rivals in the two-mile feature.
After being given a patient ride by Harry Cobden the 100-30 chance was produced to make his challenge as the field headed down towards the final flight.
And after safely negotiating the last Kabral Du Mathan quickly pressed on under Cobden before passing the post with a length and a half to spare from Latin Verse with rallying favourite Kartoon And Co a further two and a quarter lengths adrift in third.
Following the race Kabral Du Mathan was introduced at 12-1 for the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle on the opening day of The Festival – Tuesday 12th March.
Charlie Davies, assistant trainer, said: “It was a very pleasing performance. He has done everything nicely in Ditcheat. When they come over from France you don’t know what to expect, and we were very nervous about having to give all of these eight pounds.
“He has jumped brilliantly, done it all very professionally, and I think he has done it quite cosily. Hopefully he might be one for the Fred Winter in March.
“I think he is more a Fred Winter horse as to be a Triumph Hurdle horse you have got to be a really good horse, and you would have to take on Burdett Road, and Sir Gino looked very smart the other day.
“I think we will go the Fred Winter route for the time being. He has got to have one more run and maybe we will run him in a decent race and see how good he is.
“You couldn’t be more pleased with how it went as he travelled and jumped brilliantly. It was a very taking debut given them all eight pounds.”
Equally pleased with the performance was 17-year-old Alfie Smith, who owns Kabral Du Mathan with his dad Neil Smith.
He added: “Hopefully the Cheltenham dream is alive. Dan Skelton’s horse (Kartoon And Co) was well backed before the race and the Chelsea Thoroughbreds horse (Whispering Royal) looked good in running.
“I think he did very well giving that weight away. He is a progressive type with a big future in front of him. He is the type we are looking for.”
Ben Pauling was not shy in hiding his praise for Tellherthename who he described as being as ‘class horse with gears galore’ after getting his career back on track in effortless fashion in the Arkle Finance EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle at Huntingdon.
The talented five-year-old left behind his below par effort in the Grade One William Hill Formby Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree on Boxing Day behind when outclassing his five rivals back in calmer waters to make it two wins from as many visits to the Cambridgeshire course.
Sent straight into the lead by Kielan Woods the 1/4 favourite, whose previous victory over hurdles came over course and distance in November, barely had to get out of second gear to return to winning ways in the two-mile contest to set up a tilt at bigger and better targets.
Although clipping the second last it failed to halt the momentum of the odds-on favourite who continued to draw clear after the final flight before scoring by 14 lengths.
And following the race Pauling hinted Tellherthename will either contest next month’s Betfair Hurdle at Newbury or go straight to the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Pauling said: “We are back on track. We turned a lot of stones to try and find out what happened at Aintree. We found a few little bits and bobs, but nothing that put us out for that long as you could see.
“I was just keen to get his season back on track before we dwelt on it for too long. The ground there was soft enough, and it is not the good to soft that they have advertised, but he has handled it very well. He is an unbelievably class horse.
“That now gives him his fourth run so he has got the option of the Betfair Hurdle, but the ground would have to be spot on for that otherwise we will go straight to the Supreme with him.
“I think he is a class horse with gears galore and I sometimes think they are best fresh. They go such a gallop in that race (Supreme) and if you are anything but absolutely ready for the day then you might get flat footed.”
The victory was also a timely one for triumphant owners The Megsons who retired Global Citizen, winner of the 2022 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival, earlier in the week.
He added: “It is huge as The Megsons are our biggest supporters by a country mile. We value everyone’s support, but they are our biggest supporter, and they have had an average season. Horses like this matter.
“Everything thinks that was a procession, but it wasn’t as there was plenty to be learnt today and I’m thrilled to get it out the way. This horse is as good as I have had. I think he is a really good horse as it is effortless for him.”
Woods went on to enjoy a near 3.7-1 double on the afternoon when he partnered the Sarah Humphrey-trained Jacks Touch to success in the concluding Weatherbys Hamilton Mares' Handicap Chase.
Members of the Keeping The Dream Alive syndicate praised the talent spotting skills of trainer Fergal O’Brien’s partner Sally Randell were after Springtime Promise sprung a surprise in the Weatherbys Private Bank Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
The daughter of Fame And Glory hit the ground on her first appearance for O’Brien after mastering odds on favourite Coco Mademoiselle, who was bidding to give trainer Dan Skelton back-to-back wins in the extended two-and-a-half-mile test.
Jumping the last with plenty of momentum the 11-1 chance stuck to the task gamely under Connor Brace before prevailing by two lengths.
Sheena Pilkington, of the Keeping The Dream Alive syndicate, said: “It was her first run for us since she come over from Ireland. She jumped well, but we didn’t think she had much turn of foot however she kept on galloping.
“Sally found her for us. She sent us over two or three videos of different ones but as soon as I saw this one I said that’s the one we want.
“She has been purchased to replace Merry Berry who won four races for us. It is early days and this is a good enough start, but if she was as good as Merry Berry we would be delighted.”