football legend Mick Channon’s Glen Forsa galloped into Cheltenham Festival contention when landing the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase win at Sandown.
The horse’s victory over Arkle Trophy favourite Kalashnikov continued Glen Forsa’s rise up the steeplechasing ranks under jockey Jonathan Burke following victories at Chepstow and Kempton.
Up in grade, and helping establish Burke as a top rider on this side of the Irish Sea, Glen Forsa’s jumping was slick and propelled him into a clear lead rounding the home turn. He safely negotiated the remaining two obstacles to seal a most impressive 19-length victory, which saw Paddy Power cut him to 8-1 for the Arkle and 6-1 for the longer JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham next month.
Though Channon is primarily a Flat trainer, he oversees the National horses of Tim Radford, who owns Glen Forsa.
“That was very impressive,” said Channon’s son and assistant Jack. “We’ve always thought he was very decent. I thought two and half miles was probably his trip, but I’ve been proved wrong as he has got enough pace for the two miles.
“He put a very good horse in Kalashnikov under pressure from a long way out and he jumped and stayed. I think you would struggle not to look at the Arkle, but he is in that and the JLT and we will look at both and see how he comes out of this race.
“He was still a baby at Kempton and has put on weight since then. He had a little setback, which has tested us, and the lass who rides him out every day has done a fantastic job. It is quite an emotional performance really, as we’ve worked very hard for that.”
As for Kalashnikov, downcast trainer Amy Murphy reflected: “That was very disappointing.
“Jack (Quinlan) said he didn’t feel his usual self so we will go back and check him over. Take nothing away from the winner, he is a very nice horse and when I saw him canter down to post I thought, ‘what a lovely horse’. I’m delighted for them, but we will regroup.”