18 March 2023

Nicholls and Cobden hit Kempton double

18 March 2023

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.

“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

“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.”

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.

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.

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