Can you remember as a kid when your mum or dad would venture off down the chip shop or Chinese takeaway on a Friday night or at the weekend?
The sense of anticipation was electric. How long would they be? What’s taking so long? And that sense of excitement and relief when you heard the front door open and the waft of steaming hot goodies flooded into the house.
Waiting for Presenting Percy to make his first start of the season had a similar sort of effect on the horse racing fraternity.
The eight-year-old hadn’t been seen since his explosive victory in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival back in March 2018.
Connections were ‘waiting for the right time’ to bring him out of hibernation, and Pat Kelly and company decided that Thursday’s John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park was indeed the right time.
Well, they weren’t wrong.
There were some decent horses in the field for the Grade 2 outing, including Bapaume, Limini and Killultagh Vic. But they were powerless to prevent what would follow.
|2nd||Bapume||+ 1 3/4 L||11/2||152|
|3rd||Killultagh Vic||+ hd||10/1||150|
|4th||Limini||+ 3/4 L||6/1||151|
|5th||Darasso||+ 7 L||9/2||151|
|6th||Prince Of Scars||+ 16 L||50/1||–|
|7th||Bleu Berry||+ 13 L||20/1||148|
|8th||Mala Beach||+ 5 1/2 L||28/1||146|
|9th||Coquin Mans||+ 15 L||7/1||158|
It was the perfect return for Percy, who was made to dig deep by Bapaume but stayed on well to win by a length and a bit.
“He’s a professional – he’s been around for a while now – and he’s trained by a very professional trainer in Pat Kelly,” said jockey Davy Russell, who has been on board for all ten of the bay’s starts.
“He gave me a good feel all the way through the race, and we’re very happy with him.”
Equally ebullient with his praise was owner Philip Reynolds, who commented: “We’ve been patient with him and it’s come off. We would have looked fools if it hadn’t. People seem to love the horse and with it comes a responsibility.
“Pat Kelly has only one day in mind for him so there is bound to be some improvement there.”
Going for Gold
The day that Reynolds is referring to is of course Gold Cup day at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, with Presenting Percy set to go off as the bookmakers’ favourite for the headline race.
The ante post market has the eight-year-old down as a 3/1 favourite at the time of writing, and that will surely shorten further if he runs – and prevails – in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park in February.
The 26f mark would be a step up in trip for the three-mile specialist, but he has shown a penchant for staying on in soft conditions and most assume the extra couple of furlongs would not prove damning for the horse.
Indeed, the only way in which Presenting Percy surely won’t start in the Gold Cup is if the UK is bathed in red hot sunshine for the next few months, which – let’s be honest – hardly seems likely.
His opponents for the festival’s flagship race will be a varied bunch, and probably include the defending champion Native River, who was comprehensively beaten in the King George on Boxing Day.
Another interesting proposition would be the surprise King George winner, Clan Des Obeaux. He too would relish softer ground, however, and so right now that 3/1 about Presenting Percy winning the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup looks outstanding value.