A tilt at the National Hunt Chase could be on the horizon, following OK Corral’s impressive victory at Warwick.

Runner-up in the 2018 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at last season’s Cheltenham Festival, Nicky Henderson’s charge is a late starter to the chasing game, but made a decent start to his career over fences when beating just three rivals at Plumpton last month.

The JP McManus-owned nine-year-old faced a much stiffer test as he stepped up in class when tackling Listed company in Saturday’s McCoy Contractors 2019 Construction News Award Finalist Hampton Novices’ Chase, but travelled and jumped fluently before landing the spoils, with a distance of six lengths back to runner-up Secret Investor.

Speaking in an interview on Saturday, Henderson said: “It was only his second run over fences after going round Plumpton on his own three weeks ago.

I was delighted with the way he jumped today and he won it because he was quicker than the others were. That is the interesting bit – that he did them for toe rather than gallop them into the ground.

“He’s a nine-year-old running in novice chases as he had so many problems as a youngster, but we’re on the road now.”

The intriguing booking of leading Irish amateur rider Derek O’Connor suggested connections already had one eye on the four-mile National Hunt Chase at Prestbury Park in March, and bookmakers cut him to as short as 3-1 favourite for that prize off the back of this display.

Henderson added: “As you can guess, the point of Derek O’Connor coming to ride him was that we were thinking about the four miler, and I would think we still are.

“It didn’t look like he was crying out for four miles, but I expect Derek to say we should stick to the plan.

“I would imagine he’ll have one more run (before Cheltenham).”


Published at 10:25 13/01/19


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