Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle
Grade 2, Kempton Park
£27,500 added,
4yo only,
2m, Class 1
Saturday 22nd February 2014

1 Irving 4/6F
2 Amore Alato 8/1
3 Cup Final 8/1
7 ran Distances: 5l, 5l, 3l
TIME 3m 57.90s (slow by 15.90s)

Paul Nicholls offered the opinion before the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle at Kempton that he did not have much to go with Irving at home - and so it proved in the race itself.

© Racehorse Photos

Amore Alato opened an early advantage as he bowled along keenly, but Nick Scholfield and Irving were always moving ominously well and were spotted cruising coming to two from home.

Easing effortlessly to the front before the last, there was a very minor scare as the 4-6 favourite reached for the obstacle, but he was soon on an even keel and strolled five lengths clear of Amore Alato, taking his record over timber to four from four.

Scholfield said: "I just thought in the early part of the race he wasn't travelling with the same zest as at Ascot, but the ground was quite dead and he'll be much better on better ground.

"He's a very smart animal, we expected him to win this and he has. For that ground he has picked up well."

Nicholls added: "He'd like better ground and the faster they go, the better he'll go. He can sharpen his jumping up a bit, but I couldn't be more thrilled with him. He doesn't need a lot of work, so we can look forward to Cheltenham (Supreme Novices' Hurdle)."

A trip to the Cheltenham Festival is "on the back burner" for First Mohican following his disappointing display.

A smart performer on the level for the late Sir Henry Cecil and his widow Lady Jane, First Mohican made an impressive start to his jumping career for Alan King when scoring at the first time of asking at Doncaster in early February.

He was expected to play a leading role when stepped up to Grade Two level, but his limitations appeared to be exposed as he came home a well-beaten fourth behind the hugely impressive Irving.

First Mohican holds an entry in Supreme Novices' Hurdle, but his owner Henry Ponsonby admits his charge is unlikely to line up in the Festival curtain-raiser.

Ponsonby said: "We were definitely disappointed, as we were anticipating improvement from his run at Doncaster and unfortunately that wasn't forthcoming.

"I think he's probably run to the same level as he did at Doncaster. If he was facing the same opponents again yesterday I think he'd have won, but we knew he needed to improve about 20lb and I'm afraid he hasn't.

"Clearly he's no Irving, but he had some good horses around him and I think it's a bit early to write him off just yet.

"I wouldn't say Cheltenham is definitely out, but it's on the back burner. We could skip Cheltenham and wait for something like Aintree, but we'll see.

"His jumping was a bit novicey, but we'll keep going over hurdles with him and I think there will be some nice prizes for him on the Flat as well."

Betbright £30 Matched Bet

Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle
£27,500 added, 4yo plus, 2m, Class 1
7 ran
Going: Soft (Heavy on bend adjacent to lake)

P F Nicholls
Nick Scholfield
11st 9lbs
4 - 6
Amore Alato
Nick Williams
R Johnson
11st 9lbs
8 - 1
5 lengths
Cup Final
N J Henderson
A P McCoy
11st 2lbs
8 - 1
5 lengths
First Mohican
A King
R Thornton
11st 6lbs
5 - 1
3 lengths
Germany Calling
C E Longsdon
N Fehily
11st 2lbs
28 - 1
3/4 length
Jonjo O'Neill
R P McLernon
11st 2lbs
50 - 1
9 lengths
Dubai Prince
J P Ferguson
D F O'Regan
11st 6lbs
16 - 1
37 lengths

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