Ferdy Murphy will soon finalise plans for Kalahari King’s seasonal reappearance after seeing his stable star enjoy a racecourse gallop at Carlisle on Tuesday.
The Grade One-winning chaser extended his excellent record at the Cheltenham Festival with a fine second in the Ryanair Chase in the spring, supplementing placed efforts in the Arkle and the Queen Mother Champion Chase in previous seasons.
Although now a 10-year-old, Murphy feels his star performer has returned from his summer break in the form of his life and is looking forward to seeing him return to action within the next couple of months.
“He worked fantastically well and looks to have come back better than ever,” said Murphy.
“We couldn’t be happier with him at the moment and we’ve a few options where we could start him off.
“There might be a race at Kelso, there is the Old Roan at Aintree or the Amlin 1965 Chase at Ascot.
“After he runs in one of those, the plan is to go to Huntingdon for the Peterborough Chase.”
Kalahari King was joined by eight stable companions for a workout in Cumbria, with each testing out the all-new hurdle track.
Also among the party was the Paddy Power Gold Cup-bound Divers, winner of the Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Festival.
“Divers is in good form and the Paddy Power is the plan for him, but he might run at Carlisle beforehand in the Colin Parker Memorial,” Murphy said.
“We’ll just see how he goes over the next few weeks and make a decision on whether he needs a prep run from there, but we’re happy with how he’s going.”
Others to enjoy a spin included the talented Watch My Back and new acquisition Hennessy – winner of the 2009 bet365 Gold Cup when trained by Carl Llewellyn.
“Watch My Back will probably start off in the Old Roan and he’s a good horse, but he is probably just short of the top level. He won’t be easy to place off a mark of 150,” the West Witton handler added.
Although not part of the Carlisle team, last season’s Grand National seventh Big Fella Thanks is being readied for the new campaign.
A return to Aintree for November’s Becher Chase is on his agenda.
“He’s fine and will probably go for the same graduation chase he started off in last year at Carlisle,” Murphy said.
“After that he’ll probably go to Aintree for the Becher Chase.”