In amongst a host of top notch three-mile chasers entered for the coveted Grade 1 Betfair Chase Haydock on November 19 is Ferdy Murphy’s smart two-miler Kalahari King, a horse who, if taking his chance, will be racing for the first time in his career at the distance, writes Elliot Slater.
A horse who has won almost as much in place prize money as winner’s prize money in a long and distinguished career, Kalahari King, a short-head runner-up to Forpadydeplasterer in the 2009 Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, third to Big Zeb in the 2010 Queen Mother Champion Chase, and runner-up to the super-tough Albertas Run in the 2011 Ryanair Chase (over two-miles-five furlongs) back at Cheltenham in March, has proved a tremendous servant to connections and rarely runs a bad race. People who bet on horse racing should bear this in mind.
For some time Murphy has been toying with the idea of trying his classy chaser over three miles and had intended to give him a whirl in last season’s King George VI Chase at Kempton, only for the rescheduling of the race to scupper his plans. The Middleham handler will doubtless have taken much encouragement from the way the 10-year-old came home up the Cheltenham hill in failing by only a length to beat Albertas Run (a proven classy three mile chaser) with Rubi Light, another possible runner at Haydock later this month, a further two-lengths back in third.
With it appearing that Kalahari King has lost a yard or two of pace over the minimum trip and knowing that this generally sound jumper invariably runs well fresh, Murphy’s charge is arguably the ‘dark horse’ in the contest as he certainly possesses plenty of class should he see out the trip at what is effectively championship standard. Bookmakers rate the winner of 12 of his 45 outings a 40/1 shot in the ante-post market for the race.