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Court runs solid Ryanair Chase trial

Cheltenham Racecourse

King George VI Chase and Ryanair Chase hopeful, Champion Court, should be suited by the drop in distance.

Martin Keighley has his string in fine form at the moment, a fact underlined by an excellent effort from his Champion Court in finishing fourth in the Grade 1 William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, a rock solid trial for his apparent target race of the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on March 14, writes Elliot Slater.

Always prominent under a positive ride from Alain Cawley, Champion Court led four from home in the King George only to be headed at the third last by the eventual winner Long Run. Running on empty in the final quarter mile over a trip that is generally seen as being in excess of his optimum, Keighley’s charge faded into fourth.

However, he showed enough to give fans looking for Cheltenham Tips plenty of confidence that over a three furlong shorter trip at March’s Festival there are solid grounds for believing the gelded son of Court Cave could give a very good account of himself at the Festival.

Winner of the Grade 2 Dipper Novices Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day last year when proving too good for the useful Solix, Champion Court returned to the Prestbury track to run the race of his life when a fine second to Sir Des Champs in the Grade 2 Jewson Novices Chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival, before again finishing second at the Aintree Festival in Grade 2 company behind this year’s live Gold Cup contender Silviniaco Conti.

That same two-mile-five-furlong trip will face Champion Court again at Cheltenham, a contest for which bookmakers have slashed the seven-year-old’s horseracing odds to 10/1 from 16/1. He may well go directly to the Festival as he did last year before putting up such a good performance.

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