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AL FEROF with R Walsh wins Novice Chase at Sandown

Al Ferof: may go for the Champion Chase after the Victor Chandler

  PICTURE: Martin Lynch 

Al Ferof as short as 8-1 for Champion Chase

EXCITING novice chaser Al Ferof was on Thursday introduced as Ladbrokes'joint 8-1 fourth-favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

The firm reacted to the news in Thursday's Racing Post, where owner John Hales revealed that last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner, who will step out of novice company for the first time in the Victor Chandler Chase on January 21, could bypass the Arkle Chase in favour of the Champion.

“We’ve put him in at 8-1 behind the two established chasers [Sizing Europe and Big Zeb] and Finians Rainbow as that’s where we think he is at the moment.

"We’ve afforded the entry a great deal of respect as it does not strike us as tilting at windmills. We’re also non-runner no-bet on the race and that has to be factored in," said Ladbrokes spokesman David Williams.

Paddy Power stuck their head above the parapet by offering a standout 14-1, while Coral, who eased the Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old to 7-1 (from 5-1) for the Arkle, go 10-1 for the Champion Chase.

King George fourth Somersby is likely to be among Al Ferof’s rivals in Ascot’s Victor Chandler Chase as he continues his preparation for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham, for which he’s a top-priced 20-1 with Ladbrokes.

"I've put him in the race because he ran so well in it last year against Master Minded," Knight said on Thursday.

"I know he went up to three miles and I know he probably does stay three miles, but he's a horse who could probably run at any distance.

"It's certainly on the cards he'll run at Ascot."

Like Somersby, Calgary Bay is owned by Tim and Camilla Radford and Knight confirmed another crack at the John Smith's Grand National is on his agenda.

He won a Grade 3 handicap over 2m5f at Cheltenham this month, but fell at the fourth in last year's Aintree marathon.

"He's always been a good horse," Knight added on At The Races.

"He's just been a bit unlucky, we've never found the right race. He's not an easy horse to place at distances either, a bit like Somersby.

"I don't really know what his distance is, but he's going to be entered in the National. I'm told by all these experts that two-and-a-half-mile horses are good horses for the National."

Calgary Bay is 40-1 with William Hill for the National.

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