Knight wants sharp show from Somersby
Though every twig between Henrietta Knight's Oxfordshire yard and Cheltenham was thick with frost, she returned from Ireland yesterday to learn that a return to top-class jump racing is still thought feasible this weekend.
As a result, the recent frustrations she has shared with so many other trainers may yet be redressed by potentially her best horse since Best Mate.
After a light, but stirring, novice campaign, Somersby might seem to stand at a crossroads. The way he stormed up the hill in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in March, all but running down Sizing Europe, permitted no doubt that he is every bit as talented as Knight believed, but he could not match that form at Aintree three weeks later and was only third when sent off favourite for a valuable handicap at Exeter last month.
On closer inspection, however, that was a perfectly satisfactory resumption. He went sweetly for a long way, just seeming to lose his rhythm as he tired and Knight expects him to prove sharper when he returns to Cheltenham for the Keith Prowse Tingle Creek Chase, salvaged from snow-bound Sandown last weekend.
"He ran perfectly OK at Exeter," she said. "It was just those fences along the top there. He didn't so much miss them out, as get too close to them. He wasn't very fluent and you do really need to flow along those fences there. He was a bit careful perhaps and we felt he needed that run to get his confidence back and his technique."
With Master Minded in opposition, Somersby's performance should at the very least help to establish his best distance. "We've always thought he would stay, but every time we've put him farther he has disappointed," Knight said.
Somersby will again be ridden by Knight's new stable jockey, Hadden Frost.