Alasi (right) pursues Champion Court over the final fence at KemptonPICTURE: Getty Images
Court defeated as Alasi
is champion at Kempton
Report: Kempton, Friday
Kempton.co.uk Graduation Chase 2m4½f
AN easy dress rehearsal for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival was the ambition for Champion Court but it ended up being a hard-fought defeat for the odds-on favourite.
The last time Champion Court lined up at Kempton he ran a stormer in the King George VI Chase, leading for much of the race, jumping fluently and eventually fading in testing ground to finish fourth.
This time it was supposed to be so much easier - and for much of the race it was. Jumping, on the whole, soundly and fluently Champion Court was niggled to move clear on the home turn with chief market rival Domtaline under serious pressure. Alasi was cruising.
Jockey Alain Cawley started to get a lot more animated on Champion Court running to the penultimate fence, while Dominic Elsworth was taking a pull on Alasi seemingly determined to keep her pinned between her two rivals.
Maneuvered out approaching the final fence, Alasi soared over the obstacle and went about overhauling Champion Court, who put up a fight but was ultimately always going to come off second best.
Martin Keighley, trainer of Champion Court, said: "I've got five weeks to sort it out before Cheltenham. He didn't jump as well as he does - he never runs into the bottom of them like he did today and Alain said he didn't get the normal feel from him. He was clearly feeling something so I will get him checked out."
Champion Court was pushed out to as big as 14-1 by Paddy Power (from 8) and William Hill (from 9). He is a general 10-1 shot (from 8).