'He's back' - Goshen reignites Champion Hurdle dream after dazzling Kingwell win
Goshen stormed back into the Champion Hurdle reckoning with a destructive 22-length success in the Betway Kingwell Hurdle, leaving Gary Moore ecstatic after a change of luck following a torrid 11-month spell for his stable star.
Since famously unseating Jamie Moore with Triumph Hurdle glory at his mercy, the five-year-old failed to show that same brilliant spark in three subsequent starts. He was bitterly disappointing when last of ten runners at Cheltenham last time, but on Saturday he proved he has been revitalised – partly helped by his trainer taking over some of the riding duty this week.
Saturday’s performance showcased all that same startling natural talent of his juvenile days, but this time in a more assured manner as the once frantic front-runner this time slotted into a prominent position, tracking Navajo Pass.
As favourite Song For Someone was asked for his effort, Moore’s ace hurdler was cruising and eventually pressed on for a mighty advantage to earn quotes as short as 9-2 for his Cheltenham Festival target.
“You can't believe how pleased I am,” said Moore, speaking away from the track. “They probably went fast enough but Jamie had the sense to sit on him. It's a sharp two miles round there and he probably wants a stiff two but I'm over the moon. He looks like he's back.
“All I wanted was him to get over the last and get the job done. I think he had a freak accident [in the Triumph] and I've never seen anything like that in my life and I hope I never see it again. It's just one of those things.
“I've done a few different things as anyone would've done to get the best out of the horse, it looks like it might've helped. I've ridden him out a bit and it certainly gets him used to carrying a lot of weight.
“People don’t know how much that meant to me. I know it’s not the Champion Hurdle but it meant a lot to see the horse back.”
Next month Goshen will look to emulate the likes of Bula, Alderbrook, Hors La Loi III and, most recently, Katchit by completing the Kingwell-Champion Hurdle double.
A clash between Honeysuckle and Epatante was more than enough to count down to but Moore firmly believes Cheltenham Festival’s day one showstopper is no longer a two-horse race with Goshen now firmly in the picture.
“I certainly hope he is”, said Moore. “He's entitled to take his chance now on what he's done here.
“I always wonder if horses underachieved – like Song For Someone – but I'll take nothing away from Goshen today. He deserves it. Cheltenham won't be easy but I haven't taken him away from home since he last ran so you'd think he's got to take a step forward from this.
“Fortunately he's a fairly clear-winded horse but surely he must improve fitness-wise as there's nothing like a run.”
Aintree agenda for Song For Someone after disappointment
A Champion Hurdle bid may not be on the cards for Song For Someone, with trainer Tom Symonds now thinking of tackling the Aintree Hurdle.
“It’s disappointing but I’m thrilled to see Goshen back,” he said. “The ground is hard work to him, he was giving weight and they’re not that far off ratings. I’m disappointed but it wasn’t meant to be on this track.
“He stuck on at the end but Aidan [Coleman, jockey] is not convinced he wants it as deep as this.
On whether going to Aintree over Cheltenham would be preferred, he added: "It probably would. We’d like to find some better ground as Aidan just said his jumping is not as slick on this ground. I think he’s better than this – he’s bumped into a horse that has returned to form. I wouldn’t rule Cheltenham out yet though.”
Navajo Pass finished 19 lengths behind Song For Someone in third, while Esprit Du Large was the only runner of the six to be pulled-up.
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