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Champion Hurdle runner-up Khyber Kim set for Christmas challenge

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: December 22, 2013

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Champion Hurdle runner-up Khyber Kim is expected to be the star attraction at the Harkaway Club point-to-point fixture at Chaddesley Corbett on Friday.

He nearly provided Guiting Power trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies with his first success in hurdling’s showpiece event over two miles at the 2010 Cheltenham Festival when beat only by Binocular.

Now aged 11, Khyber Kim won six times over hurdles, including twice at Cheltenham, but having shown his best form over two miles there have to be question marks over his ability to stay the three-mile trip in the Conditions Race.

His rivals could include Ashfield Dream’s, who is the clear pick on form, two-time winner this season Cock of the Rock, who has won two races already this year, As It Is and Rumbavu.

Tim Sage knows how to get his horses fit so it may be worth taking a chance with Perfectly Willing, who won two races in 2012.

A change of stables and Mark Wall’s invaluable assistance in the saddle could prove the key.

The Restricted is likely to be a minefield for punters with plenty of horses holding chances, but Burtolli Boy showed the benefit of a breathing operation over the summer to win in Devon two weeks ago and is sure to go close with a repeat performance.

Durban Gold scored on her debut last year and any positive moves in the betting market should be noted.

The Ladies’ Open may see the reappearance of Cottage Oak, who was disappointing at Barbury.

He was campaigned at the highest level last year and will need to win this to get his season back on track.

Tricky Trickster is the highest rated horse in the race and he showed he stays well when he won the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival.

Pat Tollit was a brilliant rider around this course so she will have advice for the rider of Calusa Caldera.

He is trained by her daughter Christine Banks who also uses the same family colours, as does her sister Angela Rucker, who could run On Borrowed Wings, Sagalyrique and Stonemaster.

Banks has also entered Bridlingtonbygones, while her daughter Phine is likely to team up with old favourite Horsham Lad.

The Rucker’s must stand a good chance of taking the Men’s Open with their summer purchase Beneficial Reform, but he will have his work cut out against the likes of Cottage Oak, Bobs Law and Cock of the Rock, while Nobby Kivambo, All Great N Theory, Shouldhavehadthat and Theatre Queen have solid point-to-point form.

Many of the 41 entries in the non-Rules Maiden have limited experience so invariably the market will be headed by horses from the more well-known stables, with Big Georgie, The Gunner Brady, The Drinkymeister and Shell Ford all falling into this category.

Big Georgie finished second in an Irish point-to-point as a four-year-old but missed last season.

The Gunner Brady was also placed in Ireland, while The Drinkymeister will probably start favourite as he comes from Tom Lacey’s stable, who always do well in this type of event.

Division One of the Members’ Maiden could be fought out by Rally the Troops, who finished second in two point-to-points in Ireland, and Storm Lantern.

The latter was found wanting under Rules but owner Robert Waley-Cohen, the chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, and his Gold Cup-winning jockey son Sam are strong supporters of point-to-point racing and Storm Lantern could go well.

Icthec ran respectably on his first run for Zoe Hammond’s Abberley stable and may be able to go one better in Division Two, while it would not be surprising if Sountine took this race in the hands of Tom Weston.

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