Kalif Du Berlais made to battle for Adonis honours

By Sports Desk February 24, 2024

Kalif Du Berlais maintained his unbeaten record but he was made to pull out all the stops by Givemefive in the Coral Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton.

Trained by Paul Nicholls and part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, Kalif Du Berlais created a huge impression on his UK debut over the same course and distance and he was sent off the 10-11 favourite to follow up.

The Harry Derham-trained Givemefive had won each of his two starts though, and with Irish Derby fourth Peking Opera and the well-backed Captain Marvellous also running, it looked a deep race.

The two who fought it out pulled a long way clear, however, and it was the superior stamina of Kalif Du Berlais which saw him prevail by three-quarters of a length under Harry Cobden and meant the major golf champion, Graeme McDowell, had to settle for second with his horse.

“He took a bit of time to get going. We went an even gallop, I didn’t feel like we were going mad but I didn’t feel like he was going that easy jumping the last down the back and took a little bit of cajoling,” Cobden told ITV Racing.

“He jumped the second last well and winged the last. He’s still a big baby and was hanging up the run in, so there’s lots of improvement to come.

“He’s massive – he’s a big chasing type. I’d probably favour Aintree if it was left up to me but Paul knows what he’s doing.”

Nicholls said: “He’s shown he can tough it out, he’s given them all weight but whether we rode him right, I don’t know – I’ll see what Harry says.

“He’s very much a horse for the future and we’ll look after him at the minute, I’m thrilled with that.

“He’s had a hard race today, so I’d say he won’t run in the Triumph. Aintree is a possibility I suppose, if we’re happy, but if he didn’t run again (this season) it wouldn’t matter.

“As a chaser he’d be one of the most exciting prospects I’ve had for a long time, he’s got size and scope. To win three as a juvenile at his size is impressive.

“Harry is riding at the top of his game and let’s hope he can keep going until the end of the season like that.”

Derham may also look away from Cheltenham with Givemefive, who McDowell owns in partnership with multiple major winner Brooks Koepka.

“He’s run a brilliant race,” said Derham.

“Paul (O’Brien, jockey) and I spoke about it last night and the plan went perfectly and we just said if Cobden gets by us after the last, then so be it.

“I’m extremely proud of my horse’s run and he did everything right but just came second.

“Maybe (we’ll go to Cheltenham) but there’s a Grade Two at Fairyhouse two weeks later that makes appeal to me. There’s loads of options for him.

“I know that horse and he’s very genuine. I imagine he’ll be very tired and the lads can’t go to Cheltenham. There will be loads of very fresh and well-handicapped horses in the Fred Winter and he won’t be fresh and he won’t be well handicapped, so we might swerve that and go elsewhere.

“He’s a horse with a bright future and we’re looking forward to what’s to come.”

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