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Court in Festival blow with race loss
5:20pm Saturday 16th February 2013 in Sport
CHAMPION Court’s Cheltenham Festival warm-up was ambushed by surprise winner Alasi in a graduation chase at Kempton.
Martin Keighley’s sevenyear- old, fourth on his last visit to the Middlesex course in the King George on Boxing Day, was limp in comparison as the 4-9 favourite.
Alain Cawley tried to make all the running but was working hard to stay in front as Dominic Elsworth and Paul Webber-trained Alasi (9-1) grabbed the £12,500 prize by a neck.
But Luckley-based Keighley was certain this was not Champion Court’s true form and said: “He (Cawley) said he didn’t feel like he normally does.
“He had a hard race in the King George and maybe he would be better with a lead now rather than doing the donkey work.
“I’ll take him home, have him looked at and we’ve got five weeks until the Ryanair Chase. He’s definitely better than that.”
Meanwhile, Keighley’s resourcefulness saw Seymour Eric (6-1) arrive at Huntingdon in time to make it three-from-three for his new stable in the TurfTV Handicap Hurdle.
The trainer’s horsebox broke down close to his Cotswold stables and he said: “It was lucky. It broke down near a garage and I borrowed Mary Hambro’s box as she is only a mile away from us.”