Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Best Mate Set for a Return

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Best Mate Set for a Return

Article excerpt

Henrietta Knight reports Best Mate to be in rude health ahead of his intended seasonal debut at Exeter next month.

The 10-year-old missed his chance to bid for an unprecedented fourth Cheltenham Gold Cup victory in March after breaking a blood vessel on the gallops.

The Jim Lewis-owned gelding is now back to full fitness though, and is set to take his chance in the William Hill Haldon Gold Cup Chase at Exeter on November 1.

"He is in great shape and we are very happy with him," Knight told At The Races.

"He's really well at the moment and the plan is still to give him an outing at Exeter."

Best Mate had just two outings last season and was found to be under the weather after losing to Beef Or Salmon in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown last December.

He was put on a course of antibiotics as a consequence but Knight is confident her leading light is over that set-back and is hoping he can still make his presence felt at next year's Festival.

"You never know everything but the virus has not done any permanent damage and he should make a 100pc recovery," she said.

"He's still got a low mileage and can probably go on a bit longer having missed that time (when he suffered a broken blood vessel).

"He certainly seems very sprightly and a lot of horses have won the Gold Cup when they are 12 and 13 so there's no reason why he shouldn't keep going for two more Gold Cups.

"All eyes are on Kicking King and not so much on 'Matey' so it is a bit easier.

"He's still very much the focal point in England though and is certainly not the forgotten horse."

A FAMILIAR programme has been mapped out for Baracouda as the brilliant 10-year-old bids to continue his remarkable record.

The gelding, trained in France by Francois Doumen, is set make his seasonal reappearance in the Ballymore Properties Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury's Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup meeting on November 26 followed by the Long Walk Hurdle at Windsor on December 17.

He won both those races last season before finishing second in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham for the second successive year on his only other start.

Crowned champion staying hurdler the two previous seasons, he has won 18 of his 24 races and finished second in the other six.

"We'll take the same route as last year. He's in good form and Francois's very happy with him," said Frank Berry, racing manager to owner J P McManus.

"He'll go for the Long Distance hurdle at Newbury on November 26 and then all being well the Long Walk Hurdle at Windsor just before Christmas.

"We'll get over those two hurdles first before we think about Cheltenham again."

CONNECTIONS of Jazz D'Estruval have decided against a possible trip to France next month with the gelding.

The eight-year-old showed his wellbeing in a workout at Newcastle racecourse on Wednesday when he looked on good terms with himself after completing just over a circuit of the track. …

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