Golf stars eyeing major Kempton prize with Givemefive

By Sports Desk February 23, 2024

Harry Derham cannot believe his luck that the first horse his two superstar new owners Graeme McDowell and Brooks Koepka became involved with is heading to Kempton with a live chance in the Coral Adonis Juvenile Hurdle.

Derham played in a Pro-Am golf tournament with McDowell and ended up with a horse after the fledgling trainer won a nearest to the pin wager with the 2010 US Open hero on the way round.

The unlikely outcome was McDowell’s involvement with Givemefive, and he got Koepka involved as well, adding a bit of stardust to his new yard. The fact their horse is more than useful is a big bonus.

“As with any ownership, if you’re new to the sport, then you’re hoping to get a horse like him. He has had two runs, two wins and he looks really exciting,” Derham told OLBG.

“Obviously, being in Florida makes it difficult for them to come and see him but in the WhatsApp group they are really excited about this weekend.

“Graeme is coming over this weekend to watch, which is great, and I think any ownership pays more attention when they’re winning.”

A winner at Market Rasen in December, the former Johnny Murtagh inmate really impressed at Warwick last time out, showing soft ground will be no issue this weekend.

“It makes a lot of sense for us to go for the Adonis,” said Derham. “There are a few four-year-olds who have won the Dovecote but we will stick to our own age group, we are second-favourite.

“Kalif Du Berlais is a very smart horse but has to give us 5lb, which is handy, and we are really looking forward to it.

“This is a big step up in grade, we are really excited for it. I’m 15 months into my training career and I have a second favourite in a Grade Two, it’s brilliant. I am really excited, he has schooled very well and we will give it a really good shot.”

In a time of dwindling ownership, it is not lost on Derham how big a boost for the sport as a whole it is to have two such high-profile patrons in his yard.

“Brooks and Graeme said when they bought him that they just want to do the right thing for the horse. We are not going for the Adonis as a prep, we are going to have a good go. If he comes out of it well, then we will consider Cheltenham, but it is not the be all and end all,” he said.

“New owners are massively important. If you can give them a good experience, then great, but you can’t always guarantee them a nice horse. But for their ownership journey to start with Givemefive, it couldn’t have gone much better. Hopefully he keeps progressing and giving them a lot of fun.”

Kalif Du Berlais is trained by Derham’s uncle, 14-time champion Paul Nicholls, and he created a big impression when winning on his UK debut.

“He was bought to be a chaser and could hardly have been more impressive on his first start in this country over hurdles last month at Kempton,” said Nicholls.

“He was in control the whole way, jumped fluently and stretched clear for a decisive success. Kalif is very smart, worked great this week and has an obvious chance of defying a 5lb penalty. We will see how he runs before making any plans about Cheltenham or Aintree.”

Nicholls also runs Swift Hawk, another who made a winning start for the stable – but the ground may have turned against him.

“Rated 72 on the Flat, he made a pleasing winning debut for us over hurdles at Taunton at the end of December. But this is a big step up in class for Swift Hawk, who would not want too much more rain at Kempton and I wouldn’t be keen on running him if it gets testing,” Nicholls told Betfair.

In the Coral Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle, Ben Pauling’s Fiercely Proud will attempt to return to winning ways, having finished third to the highly touted Jeriko Du Reponet at Doncaster.

“I thought we were going to win that race at Doncaster quite nicely – we were the last horse on the bridle and travelling the best, and I just think he was a bit green when Brian (Hughes) asked him,” said Pauling.

“I do honestly think it was just greenness, he certainly wasn’t tired, and he’s got a lot of speed, so I think Kempton will suit him more than Doncaster.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how he gets on, he’s in very good form going into the race and I think it’s a good opportunity for him to try and get a one by his name in a decent race.

“He was in the Supreme at Cheltenham early doors, but we just feel he’ll be better going here and then Aintree, so we’ve taken him out of the Supreme.”

Panjari runs for Nicholls but he is giving weight to all his rivals.

“He has improved with experience, is growing up all the time, and put up his best performance in cheekpieces when cruising clear at Musselburgh early this month,” Nicholls said.

“We found he had a problem with ulcers after a below par run at the same track on New Year’s Day. Panjari is definitely going the right way and must have a leading chance despite carrying a 3lb penalty at a track which is quite similar to Musselburgh. We are very happy with him.”

Related items

  • USGA chief hopes to open pathway for breakaway LIV golfers at U.S. Open USGA chief hopes to open pathway for breakaway LIV golfers at U.S. Open

    World golf remains split on the divide between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, yet United States Golf Association chief executive Mike Whan hopes to create a pathway for the breakaway players at the U.S. Open.

    No permanent deal appears on the cards in the near future as the PGA and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), which funds the LIV circuit, held further talks last week.

    Tiger Woods described the meeting as "productive" but just 12 LIV players will be in action when the U.S. Open starts on Thursday at Pinehurst.

    Jon Rahm would have been the 13th if not for his withdrawal due to a troublesome foot injury as LIV representation remains sparse at golf's major events.

    Whan wants to change the dynamic between the two competitions, however.

    "I think we are serious about that," USGA chief Whan said when asked about creating a link between LIV and the U.S. Open. 

    "Exactly what that looks like, I'm not just being coy, we haven't done that yet.

    "I also think, if I'm being perfectly honest with you, we've always felt like for the last year and a half that we're always three months away from kind of understanding what the new structure is going to look like.

    "So before we kind of react, what is LIV going to be, what's the PGA Tour? We always felt like we were just about to know that answer, so let's figure that out.

    "Now, I think the reason we're being more vocal about looking at that [pathway] for next year is maybe this is the new world order, and if that's the case we wanted to take a look at that.

    "I think it's feasible. I don't think it's a huge pathway, but we do offer other pathways through DP World Tour or Korn Ferry Tour, so we know that there's an option to get there."

    Past U.S. Open champions Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Martin Kaymer are among the LIV golfers to feature at this week's major.

    LIV rookies Dean Burmester, David Puig and Eugenio Chacarra all made the field through final qualifying, while veteran Sergio Garcia was added to the list of players on Monday.

  • Things trending in the right direction for Koepka ahead of PGA Championship defence Things trending in the right direction for Koepka ahead of PGA Championship defence

    Brooks Koepka believes things are trending in the right direction as he prepares to defend his PGA Championship title next week, having warmed up with a two-shot win at LIV Golf Singapore.

    Koepka recorded his first triumph on the LIV circuit this year on Sunday, shooting a three-under final round of 68 to see off competition from Australian duo Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith.

    A resurgent Smith shot five under in the third round in Singapore, but Koepka carded four birdies and one bogey to ensure he became the first player to win four titles on the LIV tour.

    His return to form comes at an ideal time, as he gears up for a bid to win his fourth PGA Championship title – and sixth major overall – at Valhalla Golf Club next week.

    "It's all starting to come around. I've put in a lot of work and I like the way things are trending," the Florida native said.

    "I just need to go back next week and make sure everything continues, do the right stuff and go from there."

    Kopeka had finished in a share of ninth in LIV's previous event in Adelaide one week earlier, four shots back of winner Brendan Steele.

    The 34-year-old continued: "I feel good – I feel a lot better than I did last week. 

    "It was about rounding the corner for me. I was improving but the results weren't there. It's nice to see some results and the hard work paying off.

    "I still have the same expectations every time I go tee it up and that's to win. Those are my expectations, what I want to do. One result doesn't mean anything really in the scheme of things.

    "For two weeks, a lot can change. Yeah, it does help, but at the same time, I've seen guys miss cuts and then go win and then win and then not compete the week after. It's all ebbs and flows."

  • Supreme Ventures Racing urges review of racing rule after Caymanas Park abandonments Supreme Ventures Racing urges review of racing rule after Caymanas Park abandonments

    Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), operators of Caymanas Park, have called for a review of Rule 44 (iii) enforced by the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) following the cancellation of two races during the April 27 race meet at Caymanas Park.

    In a press conference on Monday addressing the abandoned races, SVREL Executive Chairman Solomon Sharpe expressed frustration with the rule, highlighting its potential impact on the racing industry.

    "This rule, unique to Jamaica, imposes a strict five-minute limit after the published post time for races at Caymanas Park," Sharpe stated. "It fails to account for various factors that can delay race starts and penalizes all stakeholders when races are abandoned, affecting punters, jockeys, grooms, trainers, owners, promoters, and the government."

    Last year, Caymanas Park contributed over $260 million in combined taxes to the government's coffers. Sharpe urged the JRC to engage SVREL in discussions on Rule 44, emphasizing the need for constructive dialogue to address the rule's impact.

    "We were not consulted during the initial discussions on this rule, and now, with two races abandoned in a single race day, our concerns have materialized," Sharpe explained. "SVREL is open to collaborating with the JRC to review and refine this amended rule."

    Representatives from the Grooms Association, Jockeys Association, and the United Racehorse Trainers Association echoed SVREL's concerns and supported the call for a review of Rule 44.

    Sharpe concluded by appealing to regulators, stakeholders, and the public to support the growth of the horseracing industry in Jamaica. "Horseracing has immense potential in Jamaica and can become a significant foreign exchange earner. Realizing this potential requires collaboration among all stakeholders."

    SVREL has been operating Caymanas Park since March 2017 after the government divested the property. With investments exceeding J$4 billion in product enhancements and innovations like the Mouttet Mile, which boasts the largest purse in the English-speaking Caribbean, SVREL remains committed to advancing the horseracing experience in Jamaica.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.