Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase
|Grade 2, Kempton Park 14:30
£80,000 added, 4yo plus,
2m, Class 1
|Sunday 27th December 2020|
1 Nube Negra 20/1
2 Altior Evs
3 Duc Des Genievres 13/2
6 ran Distances: 3½l, 4¾l, 17l
Time: 3m 57.90s (slow by 7.90s)
Nicky Henderson’s dual Champion Chase victor Altior, who was a late absentee from the Tingle Creek earlier in the season, ran in snatches throughout for Nico de Boinville, but ultimately had no answer to Dan Skelton’s Nube Negra.
On the bridle throughout, Harry Skelton was at pains not to hit the front too soon on his brother's charge, who had not been seen since finishing second in the Kingmaker at Warwick in February.
Altior showed guts to keep in contention in the home straight and it briefly looked as if his famous turbo was going to kick in, but Nube Negra had plenty in reserve and was heavily eased, crossing the line three and a half lengths to the good.
Skelton said: “It’s quite unbelievable. It’s taken me by surprise – you don’t expect necessarily to beat Altior. Nube Negra is not a horse that has thrived on really soft ground, but he has matured to the point now where he can handle that. I think that is the most taking part of today’s performance.
“I was amazed how hard he came back on the bridle turning in. He has always been a strong traveller for a horse that has threatened to be so good.
“I was so disappointed he got beaten in last year’s Henry VIII, but he is putting it right now. As a 16.3 (hands high) horse, I think he has just taken time. I’m just delighted with everything really.
“The owner has been very patient. We’ve always taken our time with him. He had a bit of an injury setback in the spring, but he couldn’t run because of Covid. We were never going to Cheltenham, we were going to Aintree, but he never got that chance.
“It was probably the best thing that ever happened to him as it gave him the chance to mature.
“He will definitely go to Cheltenham this year – the Champion Chase is his next stop. He is a horse that is very good fresh and the Clarence House will come way too soon and I think for a horse that has to be fresh, the Newbury race is just too close to Cheltenham for him.”
De Boinville felt Altior’s class had helped him make the frame, but was at a loss to explain his defeat as the evens favourite.
He said: “We will definitely get him home and give him a full MOT and see what has gone on.
“You don’t know whether something is wrong or if it is an age thing. We will get him home and see how he is. The good news is he looks safe and sound at the moment.
“I was in trouble a long way from home, but it probably shows what class he has got that he kept going all the way to the line.
“Full credit to Dan and Harry Skelton for having their horse in great condition for this.
Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase
£100,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m, Class 1
POS. FORM HORSE AGE WGT TRAINER JOCKEY SP
1 Nube Negra 6 11-0 Dan Skelton Harry Skelton 20/1
2 3½ Altior 10 11-6 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville Evs
3 4¾ Duc Des Genievres 7 11-0 2 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 13/2
4 17 Rouge Vif 6 11-3 Harry Whittington Gavin Sheehan 9/2
FELL Sceau Royal 8 11-0 Alan King Daryl Jacob 9/2
PU Global Citizen 8 11-3 Ben Pauling Aidan Coleman 20/1