Mister Fisher the highlight of 821-1 Kempton four-timer for Nicky Henderson
After the morning fog lifted, Mister Fisher had his day in the sun with an authoritative success in the Coral Silviniaco Conti Chase and is now on schedule for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in March.
Pulled up on his return to action in the King George at Kempton in December, Mister Fisher looked razor-sharp in the paddock and, after stalking the leaders into the home straight, he hit the front after the second-last, pinged the final fence and sprinted away to beat Eldorado Allen by one and three-quarter lengths.
"That race was made for him since the day it was put in the programme book," said winning trainer Nicky Henderson, who has always rated Mister Fisher high up the Seven Barrows pecking order.
"He was really good, but he is really good and up there in the higher echelons. I wouldn't be in a rush to go back to three miles. He has a Gold Cup entry but I would think the Ryanair is more realistic."
Coral go 16-1 about the winner for the Ryanair, a race in which the James and Jean Potter-owned Mister Fisher tried to live with the lung-busting gallop of Allaho last year before being pulled up before the second-last.
Henderson added: "If it was on good ground he'd be competitive. He deserved a nice pot like this and he's got to go and fly in the top flight now. We love him – he's a beautiful horse."
It turned into a fine day at one of his favourite racecourses for Henderson, who dismissed any concerns about the form of his runners with an 821-1 Kempton four-timer.
Falco Blitz set the wheels in motion in the 2m4½f handicap chase before Caribean Boy in the 3m handicap chase and First Street in the 2m handicap hurdle ended the card in style. For good measure he also landed the bumper at Warwick with Luccia.
"A fortnight ago I was grumbling they weren't running consistently well but you know I love Kempton and even in this ground it suits our horses," said the trainer. "It's been great and we can't complain.
"Christmas here was fantastic but apart from Constitution Hill it's been a bit dull since, and then we come back here and it all seems to go back to where you want it."
Henderson was especially pleased to see Caribean Boy return to winning ways after a heavy fall at Ascot last time and has his eye on a return to Kempton for the £150,000 Coral Chase on February 26.
Silver strikes gold
Milton Harris, enjoying his best ever season in terms of winners and prize-money, took the wraps off another potential JCB Triumph Hurdle contender as Silver Shade made a winning debut over jumps in the 2m juvenile hurdle.
He may have only been an 18,000gns purchase from the Flat but there was plenty of the Chris Baldwin-owned winner to admire in the paddock, although Harris was the first to admit there is room for improvement in the jumping department.
Nevertheless, he was not ruling out Silver Shade joining stablemate Knight Salute in the Triumph come March, with Coral introducing the winner at 40-1 for the juvenile showpiece.
"I've made no secret I like him," said Harris, who moved on to 36 winners for the season. "He's different to Knight Salute, he's a big, strong horse and has always done everything right.
"His jumping could be improved but this ground would be quite tiring for the young horses and I think this is a nice horse with plenty of size and scope."
According to his trainer, the winner could go on trial for the Triumph at Cheltenham on January 29, with Knight Salute, a general 12-1 chance for the Triumph, on target for the Coral-backed Adonis Hurdle at Kempton on February 26.
Harris added: "We might just have the best juveniles in not necessarily the best year. We've got to dream and he could be a Triumph horse."
Fry up for Aintree
There was a fair bit of animation from the usually serene Harry Fry after Ree Okka stormed away with the 3m½f novice hurdle under Sean Bowen.
Aintree in April rather than Cheltenham in March appears to be the plan for the Jago family-owned six-year-old, who Fry expects to be at his peak when he tackles fences.
"I love everything about him," said the winning trainer. "He's got a willing attitude and jumps for fun. You were drawn to him turning in and he's just a lovely young horse who you hope is going to make a chaser."
Paddy Power made the winner a 14-1 shot for the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival, which looked a fair offer after an easy six-length success, but Fry has other targets in mind.
"I know for a fact we don't want to go down the Albert Bartlett route," he said. "We could go to Haydock in February and then on to Aintree.
"He's a chaser and the Albert Bartlett is a tough, gruelling race. I know that from experience and I don't think he's a horse for that at this stage.
"When he finished runner-up at Aintree on his first run for us I thought immediately then the three-mile novice hurdle up there in April would be perfect for him."
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