RACING: Kingscliff Keeps Rising

Article excerpt

Byline: William Hayler

Kingscliff did enough to persuade trainer Robert Alner that he was ready to take on the big boys when he maintained his unbeaten record in the Tripleprint Chase at Cheltenham yesterday.

The 4-7 favourite may not have scored in the manner that some of the hype suggested he might, but in defeating Haut Cercy by six lengths he still looked a genuine contender for championship honours.

Even a rather clumsy leap at the final fence failed to disrupt his momentum as he quickened up nicely under Andrew Thornton.

Marlborough, who looked the likeliest challenger for most of the contest, gradually faded from the second-last fence, the point at which Exit To Wave, who was bustling up the winner, came to a slithering standstill after a jumping error.

But the performance still clearly represented a career-best from the winner, who was meeting rivals with considerably more experience.

'You all forget that he has only had seven starts,' said Thornton.

Officials at Wolverhampton have called an inspection for 7.30 this morning to determine whether racing can take place at Dunstall Park tonight. Recent scheduled meetings at the all-weather circuit have been suspended to allow time for essential maintenance work to be carried out on the course's drainage systems.

'He is still learning all the time, but he has shown today that he deserves to take his place in what I think is going to be a vintage Gold Cup. The bookmakers are good judges and they obviously think he has got a chance.

'He got under a couple early on but he was clever enough and I probably got it wrong at the last when I asked him to do too much.. 'It's all good experience and if we can come back for something like the Pillar Chase [on January 24], which will give him more experience of this track and the fences, that will put him just right. …