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Supreme Novices' on agenda as Lemon holds on; LINGFIELD.

Byline: by Graham Dench

LINGFIELD'S best jumps card of the season had fallen victim to the weather five times in the last ten years, but it survived an early morning inspection this time, to the relief, in particular, of trainer Kahlil Burke, who saddled Cheltenham-bound Lemon Silk to win the Grade 2 Summit Junior Hurdle.

Lemon Silk will now be rested until the festival, when he will bid to follow in the footsteps of the Summit's most famous recent winner, Hors La Loi, who impressed in the race in 1998 and was a runaway winner in the Supreme Novices' before returning three years later to win the Champion Hurdle.

The Barathea gelding had shown improved form when third to Franchoek at Cheltenham and, although he faced three unbeaten hurdlers in a field of six, Burke has always had a lot of faith in him.

So he was not in the least surprised when he went to the front two out and then just held the strong late rally of favourite Art Professor.

Burke said: "He'll have a Triumph Hurdle entry, but he'd have only 10st 12lb in the Supreme Novices' and I want to take advantage of the weight he'd receive from the older horses.

"Paul O'Neill said he's incredibly tough and he couldn't believe how well he travelled, but I promise you he'll be a much better horse on better ground."

The other Grade 2 on the card, a 3m novice chase, went to Verasi, who took advantage of a mistake by favourite Labelthou at the second-last to lead on the run-in and win by a length and a half, initiating a double for trainer Gary Moore and his son Jamie that was completed by the gambled-on Sebastiano in the 2m handicap hurdle.

The trainer felt Verasi had been unlucky at Exeter, where circumstances conspired against him, and added that he had to come here as "it was a weak Grade 2 and he loves the ground and loves the track". There are no big plans for him.

Alan King also completed a Lingfield double, the wins of Calaficial in the bumper and Sharajan in the novice hurdle adding to a memorable day for the stable that landed a double through Pouvoir and Nenuphar Collonges at Cheltenham.

Calaficial won the bumper in great style, bursting clear in the final furlong after rather forcing his way through.

Jockey Christian Williams, who was stood down for three days (December 28, 30 and 31) for careless riding, was really taken by the Trevor Hemmings-owned Beneficial gelding, as was assistant trainer Noel Williams, who said: "I thought he was in trouble when he turned out the back with a wall of horses in front of him, but he took off."

Sharajan, ridden by Jimmy McCarthy, who would have been at Doncaster if it had not been abandoned, overcame an absence of 617 days to finish seven lengths clear of the race-fit and in-form Quarrymount.

Williams said: "It's been stop-start for him because of a leg problem and he's a big horse, so he's going to improve for that. He's a lovely horse and he jumped and travelled well."

The 2m4f handicap chase went to Robert Alner's Magot De Grugy, who just got the better of Lescer's Lad and Supreme Tadgh. More impressive was the Colin Tizzard-trained Leading Authority in the 3m handicap chase, the blinkered-first-time former smart bumper horse coming home well clear of deadheaters Noble Action and Mort De Rire.

Star performance

Lemon Silk just shades it over Verasi, but Christian Williams' enthusiasm for impressive bumper winner Calaficial was infectious and his is a name we will hear plenty more of

Quote of the day

"He's a little pocket rocket. I've got a 90-rated Flat horse at home and he'll tow him along every day" - Kahlil Burke on Lemon Silk
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Dec 16, 2007
Words:638
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