Bally Legend (yellow silks): "just loves it at Kempton," said Caroline KeevilPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Bally becomes a legend in Caroline Keevil's eyes
Report: Kempton, Saturday
BetBright Chase (Handicap) (Grade 3) 3m, 5yo+
THE Caroline Keevil-trained 28-1 shot Bally Legend enjoyed the biggest success of his 29-race career, winning the £100,000 guaranteed BetBright Chase by a length and a quarter from 15-2 shot Bury Parade, with the 9-2 favourite Tour Des Champs, who set the pace, holding on for third.
"This is by far my biggest and best win," said a delighted Keevil. "It's a big one for a small owner/breeder and trainer."
Ian Popham, who rode his first Grade 1 winner at Kempton on Annacotty over Christmas, said: "After breaking my pelvis twice this is the first season I have had a clear run and this 22nd winner equals my best.
"I am delighted for Caroline, who along with Martin Keighley (Annacotty trainer), has been very loyal and supportive. I rode for Caroline when I was 16 in point-to-points so it is extra special."
Yet if it was not for Sam Twiston-Davies, the team of Keevil, Popham and owner/breeder Brian Derrick may not have tasted a sweet success, or pocketed the £56,950 winners' cheque.
Going to the last Noel Fehily looked as though he was coming with a perfectly timed challenge on Bury Parade. However, with a wall of three horses in front of him he tried to sneak up the rail. But Twiston-Davies closed the door on him on Tour Des Champs and forced to regather and switch around his rivals, Fehily was unable to get to the winner and land a double on the day.
With the Goliath that is the Paul Nicholls yard hampered it meant a day of all days for the Davids, with the nine-year-old hanging on doggedly for a first Graded win. He adds his name to a roll of honour in this race that contains the likes of Desert Orchid, Rhyme 'n' Reason, Rough Quest, Bonanza Boy and Gloria Victis.
"When I am at my lowest ebb Bally comes along and cheers me up - it has been desperate around me," added Keevil. "The fields are literally lakes and the gallops have had quite a lot of damage but the three-furlong circular gallop has been fine.
"He just loves it at Kempton - he is springheeled here. He has a Byrne Group Plate entry but I am not sure if he will go there as it is close and it will depend how he comes out of this."
On runner-up Bury Parade Nicholls said: "Noel said he was just running around a bit and lugging with him. If he'd have got a clear run up the fence he'd have won but it was a big run. The only two races I can think of for him are the Gold Cup at Punchestown or the Whitbread at Sandown."
Carl Llewellyn, assistant to Nigel Twiston-Davies, trainer of Tour Des Champs, said: "He's run well with no weight and if he comes out of it okay we will look at the three-mile handicap at Cheltenham. He could have easily folded but stuck his neck out."