Unstoppable Bravemansgame claims Kauto Star Novices’ Chase

Bravemansgame put on a brilliant performance to get the better of Ahoy Senor in the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton.

The two had clashed over hurdles last season, with Ahoy Senor inflicting a surprise defeat at Aintree as a 66-1 shot - but Bravemansgame comprehensively reversed that form over the bigger obstacles.

Ahoy Senor was the 11-10 favourite for trainer Lucinda Russell and jockey Derek Fox, and the market leader was sharply away, setting out to make all in the three-mile Grade One contest.

In contrast, Harry Cobden was happy to adopt patient tactics on the 6-5 chance Bravemansgame, tracking the leader in second before really starting to line up his challenge with a handful of fences left to jump.

A slightly lacklustre leap at the third-last from Ahoy Senor cost him valuable momentum and Cobden was perfectly placed to seize the advantage, kicking for home on Bravemansgame who quickly changed gear to streak away.

Bravemansgame (left) ridden by Harry Cobden before winning the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices' Chase during King George VI Chase day of the Ladbrokes Christmas Festival at Kempton Park. Picture date: Sunday December 26, 2021.

Paul Nicholls' charge was seven and a half lengths clear at the line, maintaining his perfect record of three wins from as many fencing starts.

The Ditcheat trainer hailed the performance of Bravemansgame - who he believes compares favourably with his former staying star Denman at this point of their careers.

He said: "He's a mighty horse. He travelled and jumped and stayed on strong - he's got it all.

"It's the first time he's won over three miles. I was worried the ground might be a bit on the slow side, but those good horses keep galloping.

"Last year he was half the horse he is now and he's improving all the time physically. I'd like to think he will continue to improve as he gets stronger.

"I was laughed at when I compared him to Denman, but there is nothing between what he and Denman had done at this stage of their careers. Obviously Denman went on to be a proper Gold Cup horse and if this horse ends up achieving half of what Denman did, we'll be delighted.

Bravemansgame was cut by some bookmakers for the Festival Novices' Chase at Cheltenham in March - but Nicholls is far from set on a trip to Prestbury Park.

He added: "After he won at Newton Abbot someone asked me 'what's your target' and I said 'next year's King George' and that will be my target next year.

"I haven't really got a plan. I always wanted to give him two runs and then come here and I'll talk it through with the guys.

"I don't want to give him too many hard races where he's got an impossible task. I know some of the owners are very keen to go to Cheltenham, but to me, if we missed Cheltenham and won at Aintree and won next year's King George, that would be doing the job properly.

"He's a very special horse, obviously. (But) if you want them at their best when they're nine years old you've just got to give them time to mature."

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