The Lucinda Russell-trained Tap Night emerged as a potential contender for the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival next week after a brave victory over the highly regarded Captain Conan in the Grade 2 Totepool Premier Kelso Hurdle on Saturday, a performance that saw him cut from 25/1 to 16/1 with most firms for the fiercely competitive two-mile five-furlong event, writes Elliot Slater.
Russell will wait to see how her winner recovers from his exertions before making a final decision as to whether to go to Cheltenham or wait for Aintree next month, but there was certainly plenty to like about the way the five-year-old gunned down the higher rated Nicky Henderson-trained favourite who had struck for home and held a three-length advantage at the final flight. Those following the 2012 internet Cheltenham race odds will have been impressed.
Kelso’s long run-in has taken its toll of many horses in the past and Captain Conan became the latest to fall victim to the long uphill climb to the line as Tap Night’s stamina really began to kick in over the two-and-a-quarter mile trip in the last furlong, Peter Buchanan’s mount answering every call as he loomed alongside the leader before forging ahead in the final 100 yards to score by two lengths, the pair having pulled 23-lengths clear of the third placed Bury Parade.
The gelded son of Pleasant Tap was completing a smart hattrick of wins this term having begun his winning run when scoring at Carlisle in November off a mark of 110, before following up in fine style off a 15lb higher mark when slamming Falcun by 12-lengths at Newcastle last month. Rated 132 going into the Kelso race, Tap Night will run off 137 (including a 5lb penalty) at Cheltenham, and if he bounces back from his Kelso success would surely be of interest at current odds to many each-way punters.