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Three weeks and counting… (23/02/09)

On Sunday, Alfie Sherrin romped clear of his rivals at Fontwell to maintain his unbeaten record, his three victories coming in a point-to-point, a bumper and, most recently, a novices’ hurdle. The rangey dark brown gelding, who is named after the former point-to-point commentator, looks every bit a chaser in the making and, as we have seen this season, Kayf Tara’s offspring show just as much talent over the larger obstacles as they have done in bumpers and over hurdles

Four-time winner Kornati Kid became the first to record a Graded steeplechase victory for his sire when landing the G2 Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby on 31 January. This success was quickly followed up by the front-running Carruthers, who won the G2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot on 14 February. Both Kornati Kid and Carruthers, who hold entries for the G1 RSA Chase, are among a clutch of exciting novice chasers by Kayf Tara to be heading to the Cheltenham Festival, which starts in three weeks time.

Planet Of Sound looks set to feature on the opening day of the Festival in the G1 Arkle Chase and was the ante-post pick of the Racing Post’s shrewdest tipster, Pricewise. The seven-year-old, who is also entered for the Grand Annual, has won his last two starts at Newbury in impressive fashion and is one of three Kayf Tara geldings to be heading to Cheltenham from Philip Hobbs’ Somerset yard, the others being the aforementioned Kornati Kid and last weekend’s G2 hurdles winner Tarablaze.

Also making the trip from Somerset, but this time from David Pipe’s stable, is The Package, who holds entries for four races at the Festival. David Johnson’s six-year-old, out of the Ardross mare Ardent Bride, won a bumper and a maiden hurdle last year and has twice been placed over fences.

We outlined the promising Festival-bound hurdlers on the website a few weeks ago and two names have been added to the list since then: the versatile Kayf Aramis, a three-time flat winner who has won two hurdle races in the last fortnight, is now entered in the Pertemps Final while the Paul Webber-trained Space Mission is set to line-up for the inaugural running of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.

Such is the roar as the tapes fly up for the opening race of the Festival that, with a favouring wind, Kayf Tara will doubtless hear it from his paddock just a few miles away here at Overbury. We’ll be shouting loudest of all for a first Cheltenham winner for Britain’s leading National Hunt sire.