Charlie Longsdon: may run Pendra in the Ultima Handicap Chase
By Bruce Jackson 3:46PM 1 MAR 2017
OUR KAEMPFER, favourite for the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase with bet365, is more likely to run in the RSA Chase with his stablemate Pendra a possible to run in the opening Cheltenham Festival day handicap.
Charlie Longsdon, looking for his first Festival winner, said: “I’m leaning that way as I don’t think the RSA looks the strongest this year and you need to have a stone up your sleeve to win the Ultima and Our Kaempfer couldn’t win the Pertemps of a 8lb lower mark last year.
“You only have one chance to run in the RSA and Pendra, who has started favourite at Festival three times, could run in the Ultima or the Kim Muir – I think he’s off a nice mark and ran a cracking race in the National last year on ground he didn’t like – he had travel sickness coming back to us but has always been a class horse and is having a gallop this weekend.”
Longsdon could also saddle a runner for the Queen in the JCB Triumph Hurdle in Forth Bridge and added: “There’s a lot of excitement about possibly having a runner for the Queen and I think he’s a massive price and will like the track if he runs.”
The Ultima is still shaping up into a hot race with Neil Mulholland ready to run three in 2015 winner The Druids Nephew, The Young Master, who was third in the race last year and on course for the Randox Health Grand National, and last Saturday’s BetBright Chase winner Pilgrims Bay.
“I think The Druids Nephew is every bit as good if not better than when he won,” said Mulholland.
Phil Smith, the BHA head of handicapping, confirmed: “This year’s Ultima is by some degree the best field.”
Simon Claisse, Cheltenham’s director of racing and clerk of the course, reported the ground on Wednesday morning as good to soft with more soft places on the New Course than the Old Course used for the first two days.
Claisse said: “It is an unsettled forecast with 20-30mm of rain possibly in the ten days up to the Saturday before the meeting.”