Reports18 March 2023

Feature win for Complete Unknown as Paul Nicholls continues frightening form

Paul Nicholls: praised Kempton's prize-money
Paul Nicholls: praised Kempton's prize-moneyCredit: Edward Whitaker

Wimbledon-based food importer Jimmy Chua reckons jump racing is scary, but what is frightening is the form of Paul Nicholls, who recorded a double thanks to Outlaw Peter and Complete Unknown. 

The latter is part-owned by Chua, who also races smart handicapper Orbaan on the Flat with David O'Meara.

Complete Unknown's victory in the feature handicap chase, which was worth £60,000, followed Outlaw Pete's in the 2m5f handicap hurdle.

"Jump racing is very scary," said Chua, an owner for more than 20 years. "I love the Flat, but am getting the hang of jumping and will definitely be getting more."

Told Chua found the code scary, the red-hot Nicholls replied: "Not with us he won't!"

His winners were ridden by Harry Cobden, who continues to impress.

"He's riding very well and his confidence is high, which is good," said Nicholls, set to be crowned champion trainer for the 14th time this term.

"All the horses are running well and long may it continue until the end of the season. Six weeks today we'll be at Sandown for the season finale, so it soon goes quickly. It's frightening how quick, but then it's all back to zero on May 1 when there's a meeting back here."

Nicholls hailed Kempton's prize-money and was thrilled to be ending a fruitful week, in which he saddled two Cheltenham Festival winners, on a high.

He added: "That was a great pot for Complete Unknown and this meeting is a brilliant one to have at the end of Cheltenham for horses who don't want to go there.

"Credit to Kempton for doing it at the end of a week that is tough. There's loads of build-up to Cheltenham and I cannot explain what the pressure is like; it's unbelievable. But that winner on Thursday with Stage Star was just brilliant."

Man in demand

Richard Bandey's training talents were advertised when Theatre Man struck in the 2m5f novice hurdle.

Ridden by Harry Bannister, Theatre Man runs in the colours of Newbury chairman Dominic Burke and Tim Syder, whose Haston Clermont was fifth.

"Richard has got some very good staff and I think the quality of a yard often comes down to how good your staff are," said Syder, who lives not far from Bandey's Tadley, Hampshire, base. "He's a very good trainer and a horseman. He bought Saint Palais for us who has done really well and he's done really well with this fella. Hopefully we can help put Richard on the map."

A winner's a winner

A Cheltenham-week winner is always welcome, but – for Martin Keighley – it came at Kempton courtesy of Zestful in the mares' novice hurdle.

Keighley trains close to Cheltenham and was anticipating a big run from Back On The Lash in the Cross Country, but conditions went against him.

"He won't run on that ground again," he said. "We took a chance, but Sean [Bowen] said he hated the ground from the moment he jumped off. We're near to Cheltenham and I was going crazy with every drop of rain that was falling." 

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James BurnLambourn correspondent
Published on 18 March 2023Last updated 20:11, 18 March 2023