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Arkle Trophy hope helps Barbury Castle’s King to a treble win at Warwick
The Aintree and Punchestown Festivals, as well as Cheltenham, will be under consideration for Balder Succes after his triumph in the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick on Saturday.
Balder Succes staked his claim for the Racing Post Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham, in which trainer Alan King already has a strong contender in Valdez.
However, King reports the owners of Balder Succes are enthusiastic about running their six-year-old at the other two main Festivals later in the spring.
“Wayne (Hutchinson) was very pleased with Balder Succes, who put the race to bed with some brilliant jumps down the back straight,” the Barbury Castle handler said.
“He is a great little leaper and has won three of his five races over fences, so he has the experience for Cheltenham, though I will sit down and talk to the owners before making a final decision as I know that they are keen on both Aintree and Punchestown.”
King enjoyed an across-the-card treble on Saturday to confirm his string was back in business after he was forced to shut up shop in January.
His other two winners, Smad Place and Midnight Prayer, are bound for the RSA Chase and National Hunt Chase respectively at Cheltenham next month after their victories.
“Smad Place won’t run again before the RSA. He needed this extra experience, so I was relieved that Newbury got the green light,” said King.
“His jumping was a bit patchy early on, but he got better as the race progressed, and he is a real three-miler, so Cheltenham should suit him well.”
Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson remains “fairly optimistic” about Sprinter Sacre’s prospects of making it to the Cheltenham Festival after taking the latest step on a racecourse return to Newbury.
The reigning Champion Chase hero has been fitted with a heart monitor after his episode at Kempton on December 27, when pulled-up at halfway.
This was simply a walk around the paddock to polite applause as he accompanied the retired Denman, who also came back to action after suffering from an irregular heartbeat during his racing career.
A wire under Sprinter Sacre’s saddlecloth was the only evidence of his monitor, which feeds information to noted equine specialist Celia Marr.
Henderson said: “Celia took the chip out to look at the information on the computer and she could tell just looking at it that he had done a steady canter and then something stronger yesterday.
“His heart rate never went over 200 and he wasn't stressing himself at all.
“He’s done this today, he’ll canter tomorrow, work Tuesday and Saturday and then we’re looking at doing something at Kempton the following weekend, either on the grass or the all-weather.
“Nobody’s going to take any chances but we can monitor it the whole way through. He’ll be doing a two-mile gallop on the racecourse at some point.”