Tony Bloom to cheer on his champion racehorse at Cheltenham before helicopter trip back to Brighton for big FA Cup clash | The Sun
LIFE is Bloomin' marvellous for one of racing’s shrewdest owners.
Not only is Tony Bloom’s star chaser Energumene odds-on for a big Grade 1 on the telly today, but his club Brighton are flying high in the Prem.
The chairman of the Seagulls has long loved the Sport of Kings, but he only owns a handful of horses and has focussed on quality rather than quantity.
You could say the same of Albion’s first team, who cost peanuts to assemble but are battling for a place in Europe next season.
But racing fans would argue the most talented athlete on Bloom’s books is Energumene, who is chasing a fifth win at the highest level this afternoon.
The nine-year-old was pencilled in for the Clarence House Chase at Ascot last weekend before that meeting was frozen off without a ball being kicked.
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The race was saved and added to a mouthwatering Cheltenham Trials Day card – but it is worth just £90,000 compared to the original purse of £175,000.
Bloom and Co were still happy to ferry the horse across the Irish Sea, and if anything it was a relief to the former pro-poker player – who is still a big-time punter – that Ascot bit the dust.
He was in the stands to watch Brighton draw 2-2 with Leicester last weekend, but with the race delayed by seven days he will be able to cheer his champion chaser on in the flesh.
After the race he will jump in his chopper and hotfoot it back to the south coast ahead of tomorrow’s crunch FA Cup tie with Liverpool.
But there is a monster clash with Edwardstone to contemplate first – with the winner of today's big race likely to head home as the strong favourite for the Champion Chase in March.
Energumene’s big-race jock Paul Townend has been under the weather with the flu this week, but he wasn't going to let a runny nose stop him riding one of the best horses around.
Townend said: “I am delighted that the Clarence House Chase was rescheduled at Cheltenham.
“It is a bigger field but Energumene is still the one you would want to ride in the race. He is the reigning champion chaser.
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“His run at Cork in the Hilly Way Chase was a nice introduction for the season. He didn’t do anything flashy, just did what he needed to.
“This will be a bigger test as he takes on Edwardstone. Edwardstone is exciting but comes here off the back of an unseat which isn’t ideal, especially when you are taking on a horse like ours.
“Reports say he is jumping well, but in top class races like this, you can’t come with any excuses.
“Editeur Du Gite will play a hand in the race as well; he likes to go forward but the bigger field isn’t a worry.
“Energumene showed us last year that he can be versatile with the way he runs. I am really looking forward to getting going on him and I hope he can do the business.”
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So do most punters, with the Ladbrokes among a host of bookies to report strong support for the hot 1-2 favourite.
It will be far from straightforward, though, with Alan King’s stable star Edwardstone waiting in the wings.
The nine-year-old, who bagged last season's Arkle at Cheltenham, has been serially underrated throughout his career and was relatively unfancied in the Tingle Creek last month.
But he handed both Greaneteen and Shishkin their respective backsides with a runaway win under regular jock Tom Cannon.
He has 6lb to find with Energumene on official ratings and if it wasn’t for his blip over Christmas – when he unseated early doors – he might be rated a little closer.
King said: "The switch from Ascot to Cheltenham is no issue for our horse and nor is the delay of a week. He remains in fine form at home.
"Of course, Energumene has been rerouted as well and he'll be just as hard to beat this weekend as he would have been last – he's a top-class two-mile chaser.
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"But we think plenty of Edwardstone too and we are excited to be taking on the reigning champion with him."
The football can take a backseat for once – this is the real match of the day.
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