Cobden nudges ahead of Bowen in battle for jockeys champion after double at Kempton

By Peter Moore at Kempton Park Saturday 24th February 2024

Harry Cobden moved six clear of his rival Sean Bowen in the race to be crowned Champion Jump Jockey, after bringing up a double on Coral Trophy Day at Kempton Park’s Premier Raceday on Saturday afternoon.

Cobden, partnered Kalif Du Berlais and Golden Son to victory to extend the gap in a fascinating battle to see who comes up top come 27th April.

Both winners were trained by Paul Nicholls, who is very keen on Kalif Du Berlais. The Ditcheat trainer was extremely enthusiastic about the four-year-old who made it three wins in a row after seeing off Givemefive who is part owned by golfers Graeme McDowell and Brooks Koepka by three quarters of a length in the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle, but Nicholls did mention that he was keen to avoid sending the horse to Cheltenham.

“He won’t go to Cheltenham as he’s had a hard race today,” the champion trainer said after seeing the four-year-old, whose owners include Sir Alex Ferguson, Ged Mason and John Hales, deny Givemefive who runs in the colours of Major-winning golfers Graeme McDowell and Brooks Koepka.

“If we run him again this season it will be at Aintree. He’s won three from three and it wouldn’t worry me if he didn’t run again.

“He might have to go chasing next season. It never did Kauto Star, Master Minded or Clan Des Obeaux any harm going chasing at a young age, and this lad doesn’t want to be over hurdles for too long.”

Kempton specialist Blow Your Wad made it three wins from three at the track after justifying favouritism to win the Pendil Novices Chase for trainer Tom Lacey and jockey Stan Sheppard.

The tussle for the title of Conditional Jockeys Champion is looking like going down to the wire with Caoilin Quinn moving level with Bradley Harris on 26 winners, currently three behind leader Patrick Wadge, after steering Mark Of Gold to victory in the opener on the card.

The Gary Moore trained seven-year-old, who won this race last year, fell in his previous outing in the Lanzarote, but made amends this time round with a perfect round of jumping to win by three and three quarter lengths from Joker De Mai.

There was also an impressive display from Lump Sum in the 2m Dovecote Novices Hurdle. Having won twice already this season and following on a fine second in the Rossington Main at Doncaster a month ago, the Sam Thomas trained six-year-old- gelding scored a comfortable four and a half length success with Sam Twiston-Davies on board.

Thomas, holds the horse in high regard. “I’ve maybe not had as many runners this season as I have in the past as we sold some, so perhaps I haven’t got as much confidence as I should have going into races like that and I was bloody nervous this morning,” the trainer said. 

“He’s a smashing horse. We left him out of the novice hurdles at Cheltenham, although he’s in some handicaps there and could still be well handicapped, but we’ll see about what we do next.”

Conditonal jockey Ben Godfrey produced the biggest success of his career when riding Forward Plan to win the feature race of the day The Coral Trophy handicap Steeple Chase over three miles.

Trained by Dorset trainer Anthony Honeyball who saddled three horses in the race, with Sam Brown finishing fifth and the joint favourite Blkackmagic Jack who fell at the last.

The £85,425 first prize on offer is the most lucrative pot the likeable Honeyball has ever won.

Before the second last, Forward Plan looked the unlikely of the trio to win but Godfrey drove the eight-year-home to win by a length and a quarter.

The celebrations leading up to the winning post from Godfrey will linger long into everybody’s memories who were present at the track.

“I knew I had a good chance today,” he said. “When I was second on him in the Great Yorkshire Chase that was one of the biggest rides of my career. We were just beaten, so to come back and have a ride round like that, and know you’re getting there and then have it wrapped up crossing the line, the emotion just takes over.

“I don’t get many chances in good races like that, so to get the job done is thrilling.”