Brendan Duke: Kerrow could check out at Cheltenham

Dukey's feeling a buzz after Altior's win last week, and is hoping to carry it into Cheltenham on Friday - and the tungsten twiddling of the darts....

Cheltenham crowd 2018

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We were promised a tingle. We got hyper stimulation. What a race it was.

Altior, as he always does, ultimately found a way to subdue a rampant Un De Sceaux. As usual the performance wasn’t without flaws. He didn’t jump with the same fluency as in his win over the same course and distance in April.

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The strong suspicion remains that we won’t see the best of Altior until he steps up in trip. This is a big dilemma for connections though. If, like me, they think that the two-mile chasing crown is the most prestigious in NH racing, why would you vacate the title?

Henderson did say post-race that they will consider stepping him up in trip at some stage. This suggests they’re curious to see just how much higher into the stratosphere the horse can take his rating.

Hopefully curiosity gets the better of them. It’s not far-fetched to believe he could put up Kauto Star like figures.

It takes at least two to make a great contest of course.

Une De Sceaux will be 11 in a couple of weeks. He must have gone very close to running a career best at the weekend. For 6 years he has thrilled us with a style of racing that quickens the pulse.

His free-sweating, hyperactive nature wouldn’t seem conducive to longevity. I was fairly certain he would burn out long ago. Happy to be proven so wrong. On Saturday’s evidence he’s not even beginning to fade away.

Cloudy Chletenham outlook

There’s some interesting fare this weekend too.

It looks like Laurina isn’t going to take up her engagement in the International Hurdle. This is frustrating. Connections want softer ground for her. Interestingly there is considerable rain expected in the area on Saturday. The bulk of it looks like arriving after racing though. If it arrives earlier, we could be looking at soft ground. With that in mind I’m reluctant to tip up anything for Saturday.

Also the races look really tricky. Instead I will back one in Cheltenham tomorrow.

Runners in the 2m 7f handicap chase won by Kerrow take a jump on the farside of the course
Taunton 30.12.16 Pic: Edward Whitaker

Kerrow returned, after a long absence, at Bangor last month. He had only made one mistake before falling at the last. The race looked at his mercy. The handicapper has raised him 5lbs. Backing unlucky losers is normally a shortcut to the poorhouse.

Paddy have dangled a carrot by putting Kerrow in at 8/1 though.

While that fall may have left a mark on him, and the bounce is a nagging concern, I think the price more than compensates.

This is an unexposed chaser. His novice form reads well and I suspect the form of that Bangor race will work out. His normally sound jumping and deep stamina reserves look well suited to Friday’s test.

BLACKPOOL, ENGLAND – JULY 25: Darts are seen bedded in the board during the first day of the Stan James World Match Play Darts Championships at Winter Gardens on July 25, 2004 in Blackpool, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Hitting the Bullseye

While the racing is never far from my thoughts, it’s darts that preoccupies me at the moment.

The World Championship kicks off tonight and I’m uber excited. I’ve spent most of today viewing highlights from recent editions.

Watching a man’s destiny decided by the width of a wire is one of the most compelling sights in sport.

Must admit to having something of a love hate relationship with the arrers though. I love the spectacle and the working class heroes who occupy the upper echelons of the game.

I hate that I’m not one of them.

About 10 years ago I decided to become a professional darts player. The nickname and walk on music part of it was fine. I was going to be known as Brendan ‘The Elegance’ Duke. This moniker was shamelessly ripped off from poker player Joe Beevers, but I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded.

ESSEX – DECEMBER 29 : Rod Harrington throws during his second round match against Alan Warriner during the PDC Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championships at the Circus Tavern, Purfleet, Essex, England on December 29, 2002. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

There was a gap in the snazzily dressed dartist market at the time. The career of ‘Prince Of Style’ Rod Harrington was coming to a close. That void was to be filled by me.

My into music was Saturday Night by The Bay City Rollers. A rollicking anthem that was sure to win the notoriously capricious crowd over.

There was only one problem. I’m terrible at darts.

The more I practiced, the worse I got. My hunch is it’s all in the forearms. MVG, Gary Anderson etc could all pass for blacksmiths. The pipe cleaners nature cursed me with simply don’t cut the mustard.

We all have our crosses to bear I suppose. The next two weeks promise to fill me with envy and awe. While no expert, I couldn’t resist a little tickle on Joe Cullen at a big price. The draw has been kind and this power scorer looks to be building towards a peak effort.

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