Chepstow: Progressive Ballyoptic strikes on return
Richard Johnson and Philip Hobbs: connections of Rock The Kasbah
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Report: Chepstow, Saturday
totequadpot Novices' Chase, 2m3½, 4yo+
ROCK THE KASBAH made a winning start over fences as he got the better of his rivals in a fascinating early-season novices' chase.
There were four horses in with a shout as the field approached the second-last fence – at which point Imperial Cup winner Flying Angel fell when seemingly struggling – but it was Rock The Kasbah, ridden by Richard Johnson, who prevailed on the dash to the line, beating Our Kaempfer by two lengths.
The Philip Hobbs-trained Rock The Kasbah progressed well over hurdles last season, winning valuable events at Haydock and Ascot, but his campaign ended with something of a whimper as he finished down the field at the Cheltenham Festival and at Aintree.
Rock The Kasbah was seemingly revitalised by the summer break and change of discipline and could have a bright future as a chaser.
"I thought Rock The Kasbah was going well into the last," said Johnson. "But he's still a bit of a baby, although he's very neat.
"We always hoped he'd make a really smart chaser and I like that he's brave enough, but clever enough."
Owner Grahame Whateley added: "We'll get him home before making plans, but he could carry a penalty in another novice and we'll probably stick to two and a half miles."