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Kemboy carries Supreme hopes as Cheltenham Festival date looms

Sat 3 Mar 2018

Kemboy remains on course to carry the colours of the Supreme Horseracing Club at the upcoming Cheltenham Festival.

Kemboy Limerick 2 _Kemboy is 25-1 for the JLT Novices' Chase at the Festival _(PA)

The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old finished a creditable fifth in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Prestbury Park last March and looks set to make the journey across the Irish Sea once more in less than a fortnight's time.

The son of Voix Du Nord was second to the high-class Sutton Place on his chasing debut at Fairyhouse on New Year's Day and returned to the same venue to open his account over fences in impressive fashion a few weeks later, albeit having to survive a blunder at the final fence.

Kemboy holds entries in the Arkle, the JLT Novices' Chase and the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase and racing manager Steve Massey said: "As things stand he's bang on course for Cheltenham. He's in all three novice races and probably his most likely target is the JLT.

"He's obviously fairly inexperienced over fences, having only had the two runs, but he jumped great last time apart from the last and after running so well at the Festival last year, he's well entitled to go back and take his chance in what looks an open race."

(Click here for JLT Novices' Chase stats, trends, history and replays)

Whether the Supreme-owned Bunk Off Early returns to Cheltenham is still up in the air.

The roan gelding flopped when well fancied for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle last season, but was subsequently found to be suffering from colic.

Like Kemboy, Bunk Off Early embarked on a novice chasing campaign this season, but after finishing second at Leopardstown over Christmas, he suffered a heavy fall on his latest appearance at Gowran Park and he could revert to the smaller obstacles on his next start.

Massey said: "Whether Bunk Off Early travels across or not depends on how he works next week.

"Obviously the plan this season was to go chasing, but unfortunately he had a heavy fall when he looked the likely winner in Gowran last time, so we're thinking of going back over hurdles with him and putting his chasing career on hold until next season.

"He's in a couple of handicaps at Cheltenham, the County Hurdle and the Martin Pipe (Conditional Jockeys' Hurdle), and we think he's on a fairly good mark on 143, but we'll leave it up to Willie to decide whether to put him on the boat or not."

The successful syndicate has had a Cheltenham Festival runner every year since Pique Sous finished third in the 2012 Champion Bumper, but is still searching for its first winner.

"It's been fantastic to have some good runners there and it's just a shame none of of them have managed to get us into the top end of the parade ring since Pique Sous was third in the Champion Bumper," said Massey.

"It just goes to show you how hard it is. It's the Olympics of National Hunt racing and it's where everybody wants to be.

"We're very lucky to have had winners at the big spring festivals at Fairyhouse and Punchestown and obviously Pique Sous won at Royal Ascot, which was fantastic.

"A Cheltenham winner has eluded us so far, as it has a lot of other people, but hopefully we might get on the scoresheet one day."

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