Kempton report: Nicholls and Cobden double up

Sat 18 Mar 2023

Outlaw Peter surges clear to win at Kempton

Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden added to an already successful week as Outlaw Peter initiated a Kempton double in the Virgin Bet Handicap Hurdle.

The Ditcheat team enjoyed dual Grade One success at the Cheltenham Festival with Stage Star and Stay Away Fay, while Bravesmansgame put up a strong challenge to Galopin Des Champs in the Cheltenham Gold Cup before having to settle for second.

While Nicholls admits Outlaw Peter would not be of that calibre, he was pleased to see the 3-1 favourite on the mark at the Sunbury track.

A winner at Wincanton last time out, the gelding took a another two-mile-five-furlong hurdle with a positive, prominent run to score by two and three-quarter lengths.

Nicholls is excited to go novice chasing with Outlaw Peter next term

“I was a bit worried about the ground, having rained, because he pulled up in the Lanzarote but most of them did that day,” Nicholls said.

“Today was a slightly easier race, not so competitive, and he was able to dominate and just fill his lungs all the time. It was never in doubt really.

“He could go to Aintree or Ayr, or even a novice hurdle at Cheltenham at the April meeting. We’ll find one more run for him somewhere then he’ll go novice chasing in the autumn.

“Harry just said he’ll be some chaser. He’s quite versatile, he’ll win over two (miles) and a half on soft, he’ll go three miles on better ground.

“I shouldn’t think he’ll be a Grade One horse but he’ll win loads of races.”

The exciting Complete Unknown proved different class in the £60,000 highlight

Complete Unknown was a decisive winner of the Virgin Bet Fives Handicap Chase, completing the Nicholls-Cobden brace.

A consistent type, the gelding was last seen finishing second the Hampton Novices’ Chase at Warwick when beaten 13 lengths by Galia Des Liteaux.

That contest was over three miles on heavy ground, but at Kempton he stepped down in trip to just over two and a half miles on a good to soft surface.

Whilst prevailing by an unchallenged 16 lengths from Fergal O’Brien’s Silver Hallmark, Cobden believes the horse will ultimately make a staying chaser and a candidate for the longest distance contests.

"Lovely horse" - a Welsh or Midlands National could be the race for Complete Unknown further down the line, suggests Cobden

He said: “He’s a lovely horse, very progressive.

“He’s one of those horses I could just see next year running in a Welsh National with those good staying chasers.

“This time next year he might go to Uttoxeter for the Midlands National, something like that. He loves soft ground as well, which is the key to him.

“He could be a graded horse but I think he’s just a very good handicapper, if I was going to put my money on it.

“I think he just lacks that gear, he doesn’t quite have that class to travel through in a graded race. On a bit of good ground, he’d always be doing a bit too much.

“He’ll earn some nice pots in his time anyway,” he told Racing TV.

Whistleinthedark shines for Laura Morgan

Whistleinthedark continued a good run of form when winning the Virgin Bet Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase under 3lb claimer Patrick Cowley.

The eight-year-old was second on his seasonal debut and has won twice since, most recently taking a Wetherby novice by nine lengths before stepping back to two miles and two furlongs.

A 7-2 shot, he pursued the leader in the early stages, eventually taking up the lead himself to triumph by a length and a half from Paul Nicholls’ Cap Du Mathan.

"Absolutely delighted" Morgan speaks after hat-trick of wins for Whistleinthedark

Morgan said: “I’m absolutely delighted, when I saw Harry Cobden (second) coming up on the outside there I was a bit worried, but I think he’s done that really well. It was obviously a drop back in trip today and up in grade, I thought he did that well.

“Today wasn’t the target, I thought that we might go to Aintree with him but I’m not too sure yet. I thought we’d go up in grade today and see what he does and he’s done that nicely.”

Suzy Smith’s Animal was then a decisive winner of the Virgin Bet Handicap Chase under Charlie Hammond, justifying his status as 100-30 joint-favourite when winning by seven lengths.

"He's grown up loads," Hammond tells Jess Stafford at Kempton

Hammond said: “He’s a lot easier to ride in his races, he’s relaxed more. Normally we drop him out, today we were able to ride him handy. We went a bit wider for fresher ground but he’s jumped and travelled like the best horse in the race and he’s done it nicely.

“He quite often hits a flat spot in his race and then stays on and hits the line really well. The race has never quite been there for him but it was nice to get a race today, we were a bit concerned about the ground and the quick turnaround, but it’s worked out really nicely.”

Richard Bandey was pleased with the performance of the promising Theatre Man, a five-and-a-half-length winner of the Virgin Bet Fives Novices’ Hurdle.

Having run well in three hurdle starts, the seven-year-old was an 11-4 chance and made all of the running before comfortably pulling clear to cross the line five and a half lengths ahead of Nicky Henderson’s Issuing Authority.

Bandey explains his yard has had a tough week at Cheltenham and that victory here is a tonic for his team

The trainer said: “He’s done that really nicely today. He hasn’t run since December, so that’s the first opportunity that’s come about due to the ground and a few other bits and pieces. He’s done it really nicely, unchallenged, from the front, it seemed to suit the horse.

“He was carrying a 7lb penalty and Mr Henderson’s horse could have put up a serious challenge and it could have been a close affair. He’s it done it that nicely, I’m pleasantly surprised.

“I’d thought about a run round Cheltenham in April but we might be looking at Aintree now, a graded race, you might have to think about something like that.

“Next season he’ll go chasing. I love the way he jumps a hurdle but I think if he does it like that over a fence, he’ll be very impressive.”

More Latest News



Select any odd to add a bet

Single Bets

Enter a stake to place a bet

Total Stake: 

This video is playing in Picture-In-Picture. Click to Exit.