Thyme Hill earns sweet revenge over McFabulous to land Kauto Star success

Thyme Hill reversed Newbury form with McFabulous in no uncertain terms when winning the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton.

Paul Nicholls' McFabulous had Thyme Hill well behind when they met in a Grade Two last time out at Newbury, with the pair among a five-runner field upped to Grade One company. 

Not surprisingly McFabulous was sent off favourite and Harry Cobden attempted to dictate matters from the front, a task made easier when Dan Skelton's Galia Des Liteaux made a couple of early blunders meaning she ended up settling in behind.

Unfortunately her early errors took a toll and she was pulled up on the second circuit, while Gelino Bello was faller.

All the time Tom O'Brien was creeping closer on Philip Hobbs' Thyme Hill and there was never going to be any question about his stamina given how well he stayed over hurdles.

As McFabulous tired it was Thyme Hill (11-2) who soared over the last, with the first-time cheekpieces clearly working as he came home 15 lengths clear.

O'Brien said: "It was disappointing at Newbury, but the ground there was the faster side of good and I was ballooning fences and you can't give any ground away doing that. We put the cheekpieces on and the ground brought stamina into it today plus he he wasn't ballooning them as much as the last day.

"I was disappointed after Newbury, but when I schooled him with cheekpieces on I thought 'this is what I want to feel'. He is a dual Grade One winner over hurdles and he is now a Grade One-winning chaser and nearly a Grade One bumper winner. He has been a very good horse and I'm delighted I've got to ride him."

Sarah Hobbs, wife of the winning trainer, said: "I'm absolutely delighted. He jumped so well and I think the cheekpieces helped but he has been working a lot better this week and he has suddenly come into himself. He does need a fast pace. If they go too slow he can't quicken, but if it is fast to start with he can.

"He can't run very often and needs to be fresh. He is not very big but he does try and the cheekpieces just make him concentrate. He is a lovely little horse, but he has his own mind. I was confident because Philip was confident. He had said at home that his work was so much better. The girl that rides him every day said that he was a different horse.

"He would have to have at least a month off. There are not too many races he can run in before Cheltenham. It would be better if he went to Cheltenham then Aintree as he has won at Aintree before. He is a good horse."

Nicholls said of his runners: "McFabulous just doesn't quite get three miles on that ground. I think they all had a problem with the sun there down the back from what they were all saying, Harry (Cobden) said he wasn't really confident jumping and then he's just run out of petrol.

"The other horse outstayed him on that ground and it's just one of those things, we know he needs good ground so we'll leave him until the spring and run him on nice ground. We'll freshen him up now and wait for the good ground in the spring.

"Gelino Bello was travelling really well, they're both OK and Bryony (Frost) came in and said similar. We won't be blaming anything but it's one of those things, they're both good and he's a nice horse and he'll come good."

READ MORE: Paisley Park claims Long Walk Hurdle glory at Kempton

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