Kempton latest: Silver Shade enters Triumph Hurdle reckoning

Tue 11 Jan 2022

Milton Harris had made no secret of his high regard for Silver Shade ahead of his jumps debut and the four-year-old easily justified his trainer's faith at Kempton Park.

The former Mark Johnston-trained inmate saw off his five rivals with a bit to spare in the two-mile contest, the opening race on a card that had to survive three inspections because of heavy morning fog.

However, while his hurdling left something to work on – a blunder at the third-last seemed to wake him up – his overall performance ultimately lifted any gloom and he may now head to the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

Having burned off the long-time leader Dirham Emirati, the 9-2 chance jumped the last clear and repelled the late thrust of Cuban Cigar to score by a cosy length and three-quarters.

Harris said: “I have made no secret that I like him. He is a bit different to Knight Salute in that he is a different type – a big, strong horse. He has always done everything right.

“His jumping can be improved upon. The ground for these young horses could be quite tiring. I know the Moores liked their horse (Dirham Emirati), but I was quite surprised to see Richard Hannon’s (Cuban Cigar) being so close up, but he was OK on the Flat. This is a nice horse.”

He added: “He came here last week for a gallop and he has jumped OK at home, if a little too carefully.

“He is a nice horse, who has plenty of size and scope. He might just go to Cheltenham for the Triumph Hurdle trial on 29th, but we are running out of time. I wanted to run him a while ago and he just didn’t come to us in time.

“Knight Salute will likely come to Kempton for the Adonis. We might just be in a year where we have the best horses in not the best year.

“This horse was £18,000 and Knight Salute was £14,000.

“You have to dream. He could be a Triumph Hurdle horse. I would be more aggressive with him now. He knows how to race, but his jumping is a bit careful. He has jumped 60 to 80 hurdles at home, but that will sharpen him up.”

Harry Fry to steer clear of Cheltenham with Ree Okka

Harry Fry ruled out sending Ree Okka to the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival after his impressive success in the Watch Racing Free Online at Coral Novices' Hurdle.

The six-year-old backed up a pleasing second at Aintree with victory at Chepstow last time and improved again to score by six lengths.

Ree Okka saunters to success under Sean Bowen for The Jago Family Partnership

Despite the decisive margin, it was far from a faultless display from the 8-13 favourite – he jumped right over the last two – and Fry is keen to keep him away from the rigours of Cheltenham at this stage in his career.

Fry said: “We are delighted with the performance. I love everything about him, his attitude. He is a trier. He showed a willing attitude at Chepstow the last day and today he showed how straightforward he is.

“He was up there all the way at Chepstow. Today they have gone a good gallop and Sean (Bowen) had one or two horses behind him most of the way and then when he wanted him to come into the race, he came on the bridle.

“He is just a lovely, young horse whom we hope is going to make a chaser and we are going to have some fun yet in novice hurdles this season.

“We were keen to see him step up to three miles today and see where the rest of our season is heading.”

He added: “We don’t want to go down the Albert Bartlett route. We could go to Haydock in February and then on to Aintree (Sefton Novices’ Hurdle).

“The Albert Bartlett is a tough, gruelling race – I know that from experience – and I just don’t think he is the horse for that at this stage.

“When he finished runner-up at Aintree on his first run for us, I thought immediately then that the three-mile novice hurdle back there in April would be perfect for him and that is hopefully where we’ll end up.

“Today was the first stepping stone to see him over three miles and it was great to see him do it in the manner that he did.”

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