Politologue back on track
A review of Friday's meeting at Kempton as Politologue bounced back to winning form.
Sam Twiston-Davies and Politologue
John Hales has enjoyed many days to remember at the Cheltenham Festival and Politologue could be next in line to give the high-profile owner further big-race success after returning to winning ways at Kempton.
Fitted with a hood for the first time, the six-year-old put in an exhibition round of jumping in the Matchbook Traders Conference Graduation Chase over an extended two and a half miles, defeating sole rival Pain Au Chocolat to make it three wins from four over fences .
Following the 11-length triumph, which completed doubles on the day for both trainer Paul Nicholls and rider Sam Twiston-Davies, the winner – who had been beaten last time out at Haydock – was left unchanged at 7-1 for the JLT Novices' Chase by Paddy Power.
Nicholls said of the 1-8 favourite: "He was nice and relaxed. You are always a bit nervous of running them and he had a hard race the other day. I've not done a lot with him since, really.
"He has just had a couple of canters every day and he has not done a piece of work.
"I just wanted to give him a run round and today's race has worked out awesome. We've got five weeks now to get him right for the JLT."
Hales added: "That was a 50 per cent improvement on last time. He is a natural jumper. Even when he gets in close, he gets himself out of trouble.
"My daughter doesn't agree, but in my view he is better than One Man at this time of his career. He is the best jumper I've ever had in terms of accuracy."
Captain Buck's (11-4 favourite) provided Twiston-Davies and Nicholls with the opening leg of their brace when taking the second division of the two-mile-five novice hurdle by a length – a victory which gifted the winning jockey his 100th winner of the season.
Twiston-Davies said: "It is nice to do it for the boss on a horse like this. He is the type to keep on progressing. It's amazing considering I had seven weeks, three days and a few hours out (with injury).
"Paul's horses have been flying, Dr (Richard) Newland has been a massive help and Nige (Twiston-Davies, father) is having his best season. It has been down to a combination of all three. I've been a very lucky boy."
Dan Skelton hinted at a possible trip to Aintree in April for Get On The Yager (10-11) after he ground out victory from the front in the opening division.
The Alcester handler said: "He has got a big advantage in that he is quite streetwise. Over that trip you can go more or less full tilt all the way. Back over three miles he will be more in his comfort zone.
"He is entered at Cheltenham (Albert Bartlett) but that is not a winnable option. We might just let the others get on with it there and see if we can pick up a bit of prize money at Aintree (Sefton). One day he could be the type of horse to run in the Scottish National."
Martin Hill joined the growing list of trainers that want to see racing at the Sunbury track continue after Cleni Wells (10-1) made it 17th time lucky when taking the opening two-mile handicap hurdle by a length and three-quarters.
He said: "It is very good that we still have racing at Kempton and long may it continue.
"He has the potential to be a nice chaser for the summer as he handles decent ground. Charlie (Deutsch) gave him an absolute peach of a ride."
The colours of 2015 World Hurdle winner Cole Harden were in front after Tom Greatrex teamed up with his father-trainer Warren to take the two-mile-five handicap hurdle by three-quarters of a length with Reilly's Minor.
Greatrex said of the 5-1 winner: "He is a grand horse, but no world beater. It is nice to give Tom a winner the day before the biggest ride of his life when he rides Boite in the Betfair Hurdle for me."
Blameitalonmyroots (8-1) bounced back to form when getting up late on in the three mile handicap chase by a length and a quarter for Oliver Sherwood, while the Pam Sly-trained Haafapiece (33-1) sprung a surprise in the bumper.