Fontwell winner a Festival fancy

Kings Palace, ridden by Tom Scudamore, jumps the last on his way to victory at Cheltenham on Saturday
Kings Palace, ridden by Tom Scudamore, jumps the last on his way to victory at Cheltenham on Saturday
Markov and jockey Tom Bellamyon their way to victory. Picture: Fontwell Park

Honeyball hat-trick lights up Fontwell

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Kings Palace has emerged as a big contender for a hurdles crown at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The five-year-old served notice of his talent when making all to win the Grade 2 Bristol Novices’ Hurdle at the Prestbury Park venue on Saturday.

David Pipe is now eyeing one more outing for the Fontwell winner before sending him back to the prestigious National Hunt venue.

But while he is bullish about his hopes in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the five-day festival, the trainer reckons his charge will not reign supreme until he goes chasing next season.

Pipe said: ‘He may have one more run and go to the Festival, we’ll see.

‘He’s got a good, high cruising speed and he jumped well and stayed well.

‘He’s always jumped well. Someone asked me how we got him to fall at Ayr last year but these things happen for a reason.

‘And it might have been the best thing that could have happened to him as we didn’t want to lose his novice status last year.

‘So we have given him time, he has strengthened up and it’s paid off.

‘I imagine he will have an entry in the Neptune but the Albert Bartlett would be the logical race for him.

‘He will be a smashing three-mile chaser next year, though.’

Kings Palace, who Fontwell fans will remember winning a maiden hurdle at the West Sussex track in October, produced another slick, front-running display on Saturday.

Sent off the hot 10/11-favourite, the son of King’s Theatre was foot-perfect over virtually every obstacle.

He had all his rivals under pressure a long way out, with only Masters Hill throwing down any kind of challenge as they turned for home.

But when jockey Tom Scudamore, who steered Lough Derg to a wonderful National Spirit Hurdle double at Fontwell in 2008 and 2009, asked for an effort – Kings Palace responded.

He kicked clear from two out, soared over the last and defeated Masters Hill by 14 lengths.

Kaki De La Pree, who Kings Palace beat by a length at Fontwell in October, was also victorious at the weekend.

The six-year-old son of Kapgarde won the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at Carlisle at 3/1 on Sunday.

The race was a series qualifier for the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival.

But unlike Kings Palace, Kaki De La Pree is not being aimed at the meeting just yet.

His trainer Tom Symonds said: ‘The Pertemps Final is not a race I would be looking at really.

‘He has to have soft ground and he has run in this qualifier as it just so happens it’s a suitable handicap over three miles on soft ground.’

Meanwhile, Black Thunder could well line up in the RSA Chase at the Festival after winning the Grade 2 December Novices’ Chase at Lingfield on Saturday.

The Paul Nicholls-trained talent, who kicked off his chasing career with victory at Fontwell in October, was an 8/11 winner of the trial in Surrey.

Fontwell’s next meeting is on Boxing Day. For ticket details, call 01243 543335 or visit