IF Nicky Henderson was hoping that his Arkle prospect L’Ami Serge could gain some invaluable experience at Warwick today following facile wins at Plumpton and, most recently, Wetherby, he has been left sadly disappointed.
Just two runners – Fox Norton and Violent Dancer – stand in the way of Henderson’s novice in the 7bets4free.com Kingmaker Novices’ Chase, a noted trial for the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham when L’Ami Serge is due to lock horns once again with his old nemesis Douvan.
“Although he’s run and won twice over fences, he still needs more experience as both were races where fences were omitted due to the weather and he was very much the best horse in the race taking on inferior opposition,” said Henderson.
The trainer held L’Ami Serge in the highest regard before the horse, owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, was trounced by the Willie Mullins-trained Douvan in last year’s Sky Bet Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
With Douvan in imperious form over fences this season, both Henderson, and jockey Darly Jacob, believe that L’Ami Serge needs more experience ahead of next month’s eagerly-awaited date with destiny.
“He’s outclassed his opposition in two runs over fences so far, so hopefully we’ll know a lot more after this,” said Jacob.
“There might be a bit more pace on rather than having to make his own running and he needs more experience if he’s going to Cheltenham.
“Touch wood, he’s jumped well so far and he schooled nicely when I went down on Tuesday. He’s in good form.
“This was always the race we wanted to run him in as it fits in nicely before Cheltenham, you wouldn’t really want to be running any closer.
“He’s up against two nice horses – Violet Dancer won the Betfair last year and I rode Fox Norton last time, he’s a nice horse. It’s certainly stronger opposition than he’s faced to date.
“We just need to get this out of the way and then we can start thinking of Cheltenham.”
L’Ami Serge runs in the green colours of stablemate Top Notch who will now tackle the Timeform Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso on Thursday – last season’s JCB Triumph Hurdle has failed to win any of his three starts this season and needs a confidence-boosting win to justify his Champion Hurdle entry.
Jonjo O’Neill’s highly-regarded Taquin Du Seuil reappears in the 7bets4free.com Warwick Castle Handicap Chase today.
The nine-year-old has not been sighted since finishing ninth behind Uxizandre in the Ryanair Chase last March.
A winner at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival in the JLT Novices’ Chase, O’Neill feared an injury would rule him out for the whole of this season but he has managed to get him back on track earlier than anticipated.
“He is in great form and we are delighted to have him back on the track as we thought he was going to be out for the season,” said O’Neill. “If everything goes right at Warwick, he will head to the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase at Cheltenham.”