Golf stars eyeing major Kempton prize with Givemefive

By Sports Desk February 23, 2024

Harry Derham cannot believe his luck that the first horse his two superstar new owners Graeme McDowell and Brooks Koepka became involved with is heading to Kempton with a live chance in the Coral Adonis Juvenile Hurdle.

Derham played in a Pro-Am golf tournament with McDowell and ended up with a horse after the fledgling trainer won a nearest to the pin wager with the 2010 US Open hero on the way round.

The unlikely outcome was McDowell’s involvement with Givemefive, and he got Koepka involved as well, adding a bit of stardust to his new yard. The fact their horse is more than useful is a big bonus.

“As with any ownership, if you’re new to the sport, then you’re hoping to get a horse like him. He has had two runs, two wins and he looks really exciting,” Derham told OLBG.

“Obviously, being in Florida makes it difficult for them to come and see him but in the WhatsApp group they are really excited about this weekend.

“Graeme is coming over this weekend to watch, which is great, and I think any ownership pays more attention when they’re winning.”

A winner at Market Rasen in December, the former Johnny Murtagh inmate really impressed at Warwick last time out, showing soft ground will be no issue this weekend.

“It makes a lot of sense for us to go for the Adonis,” said Derham. “There are a few four-year-olds who have won the Dovecote but we will stick to our own age group, we are second-favourite.

“Kalif Du Berlais is a very smart horse but has to give us 5lb, which is handy, and we are really looking forward to it.

“This is a big step up in grade, we are really excited for it. I’m 15 months into my training career and I have a second favourite in a Grade Two, it’s brilliant. I am really excited, he has schooled very well and we will give it a really good shot.”

In a time of dwindling ownership, it is not lost on Derham how big a boost for the sport as a whole it is to have two such high-profile patrons in his yard.

“Brooks and Graeme said when they bought him that they just want to do the right thing for the horse. We are not going for the Adonis as a prep, we are going to have a good go. If he comes out of it well, then we will consider Cheltenham, but it is not the be all and end all,” he said.

“New owners are massively important. If you can give them a good experience, then great, but you can’t always guarantee them a nice horse. But for their ownership journey to start with Givemefive, it couldn’t have gone much better. Hopefully he keeps progressing and giving them a lot of fun.”

Kalif Du Berlais is trained by Derham’s uncle, 14-time champion Paul Nicholls, and he created a big impression when winning on his UK debut.

“He was bought to be a chaser and could hardly have been more impressive on his first start in this country over hurdles last month at Kempton,” said Nicholls.

“He was in control the whole way, jumped fluently and stretched clear for a decisive success. Kalif is very smart, worked great this week and has an obvious chance of defying a 5lb penalty. We will see how he runs before making any plans about Cheltenham or Aintree.”

Nicholls also runs Swift Hawk, another who made a winning start for the stable – but the ground may have turned against him.

“Rated 72 on the Flat, he made a pleasing winning debut for us over hurdles at Taunton at the end of December. But this is a big step up in class for Swift Hawk, who would not want too much more rain at Kempton and I wouldn’t be keen on running him if it gets testing,” Nicholls told Betfair.

In the Coral Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle, Ben Pauling’s Fiercely Proud will attempt to return to winning ways, having finished third to the highly touted Jeriko Du Reponet at Doncaster.

“I thought we were going to win that race at Doncaster quite nicely – we were the last horse on the bridle and travelling the best, and I just think he was a bit green when Brian (Hughes) asked him,” said Pauling.

“I do honestly think it was just greenness, he certainly wasn’t tired, and he’s got a lot of speed, so I think Kempton will suit him more than Doncaster.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how he gets on, he’s in very good form going into the race and I think it’s a good opportunity for him to try and get a one by his name in a decent race.

“He was in the Supreme at Cheltenham early doors, but we just feel he’ll be better going here and then Aintree, so we’ve taken him out of the Supreme.”

Panjari runs for Nicholls but he is giving weight to all his rivals.

“He has improved with experience, is growing up all the time, and put up his best performance in cheekpieces when cruising clear at Musselburgh early this month,” Nicholls said.

“We found he had a problem with ulcers after a below par run at the same track on New Year’s Day. Panjari is definitely going the right way and must have a leading chance despite carrying a 3lb penalty at a track which is quite similar to Musselburgh. We are very happy with him.”

Related items

  • Deira Mile enhances Derby prospects with Windsor win Deira Mile enhances Derby prospects with Windsor win

    Owner Ahmad Al Shaik is again dreaming of Derby glory after Deira Mile broke his duck in routine fashion at Windsor.

    Dubai Mile was ninth in the Epsom Classic last year carrying the Green Team Racing colours and hopes are high of an improved placing this term.

    The Owen Burrows-trained Deira Mile remained a maiden following four runs as a juvenile, mainly due to fluffing his lines when sent off as a 1-5 favourite at Chelmsford.

    However, he showed his potential when beaten less than three lengths in fourth behind Ancient Wisdom in the Group One Futurity at Doncaster and built on that by justifying short odds of 4-9 at Windsor under Jim Crowley.

    Asked about Derby aspirations, his owner told Sky Sports Racing: “It is in my blood and my sons’ blood, not just me. We need to go to the Derby and one day we will win – if not me, one of my sons.

    “He is still green but Jim Crowley said the further he goes, the better he will be.

    “We have only 40 days now until Epsom, I don’t think we have time to run him again, so I will discuss with the trainer about going straight to Epsom and I think he will be fine.”

    Burrows added: “He’s a big lad and mentally, he’s still quite immature. He had the four runs last year, but he is still a big baby.

    “The plan was to try and find as easy a race as we could and it worked out perfectly. He’s ended up hitting the front a little sooner than ideal, as he gets to the front and just thinks ‘right, what do I do now?’ But he’s had a race.”

    Crowley pulled alongside main market rival Castle In The Sand between the final two furlongs of the 10-furlong contest and Deira Mile responded to his urgings to prevail by four lengths.

    The jockey said: “It’s the first time I’ve ridden him, but I saw him at Chelmsford last year and I think when he hits the front, he just loses concentration a little bit and he did it there, hence why I gave him a smack, because I just don’t want him to get in the habit of doing it.

    “The race sort of fell apart at the two-furlong pole and I could have quite easily stayed upsides on the bridle, but he probably wouldn’t have learnt an awful lot.

    “But he is learning, he’s going to progress and he stays well – he’s a lovely type of horse and he was entitled to win that race.

    “His two-year-old form was very good at the back-end and I suggested to Owen we could possibly put a set of cheekpieces on him, especially in a better race where horses take him further.

    “Like I said, he stays very well and there will be some lovely races for him through the summer.”

  • Azure Blue camp eyeing York return for comeback spin Azure Blue camp eyeing York return for comeback spin

    Azure Blue has the defence of her 1895 Duke of York Clipper Stakes title pencilled in on the calendar as Michael Dods prepares his star speedster for her impending return to action.

    The five-year-old appeared to be on a real upward curve in the sprint division around this time last year and followed up a Newmarket Listed win over Heredia on her reappearance by claiming the scalp of the ill-fated Highfield Princess in the York Group Two 12 months ago.

    That Knavesmire victory signalled her intentions to compete at the highest level but although she got a first taste of Group One action when finishing sixth in last summer’s July Cup, niggling injuries kept her on the sidelines for the rest of the 2023 campaign.

    She is now working towards a return to the track, with her trainer setting his sights on again tackling some of the season’s most prestigious sprinting events.

    However, the first port of call is a return to York on May 15, with Darlington-based Dods pleased with how her preparations are going.

    “The plan is to go straight to York and we’re on track for that and we’re happy with her,” said Dods. “She’s working nicely and she looks great at the moment.

    “The plan is to be in all of those top sprints this year and we’re happy with her, and she’s working nicely. We’re just making steady progress until we get her on the track.

    “Hopefully that will be at York, that’s the plan.”

  • Commonwealth Cup now the big target for Relief Rally Commonwealth Cup now the big target for Relief Rally

    Relief Rally is set for a drop back in trip, as sights turn to the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot following her run in the Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury.

    A winner of four of her five starts last season, she was highly unfortunate not to be unbeaten as a juvenile, with her sole defeat coming at Royal Ascot when beaten a nose by American raider Crimson Advocate in the Queen Mary Stakes.

    Having changed hands for 800,000 guineas in December, the daughter of Kodiac is now owned by Zhang Yuesheng and connections decided to test their filly’s stamina over seven furlongs on her first start of the new campaign.

    Despite running with real credit and finishing an honourable fourth as the 7-4 favourite, her trainer feels she should now drop back to sprinting distances and will be targeted at achieving Royal Ascot redemption in the Commonwealth Cup in late June.

    “I’m certain she didn’t stay and I said to Tom (Marquand) before the race, this will be the last time she runs over this trip, but I couldn’t not run in it,” said Haggas.

    “Whether she is going to be a top filly, I don’t know, but she is going to run six furlongs next time, maybe at the Lockinge meeting against the colts.

    “There is a race on the all-weather at Chelmsford (on May 2) for fillies, but that feels a bit hard on her and I don’t think she will go there.

    “Tom said she was very weak in the last half-furlong, when he thought he had them covered, so I’m not sure, she may have just got tired as well, but she won’t run seven furlongs again and she’s not going to be running in the French Guineas.

    “We’ll try to get her to Ascot if we can, with a run before.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.