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Agony for Bensalem as he misses Cheltenham again

3/5/13 - Connections of the smart handicap chaser, Bensalem, have been left shattered for the second year running following the news that the Alan King-trained gelding has suffered yet another injury and will miss his intended target of the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on March 12, writes Elliot Slater.

A horse who, at his best, wasn’t a million miles away from contesting the top three-mile chases with some interesting horses, Bensalem has been plagued by injuries over the last two years but appeared to have put his troubles behind him when making a promising return to action at Exeter last month. He finished a highly respectable third to the upwardly mobile Harry Topper on his first start for 22 months.

A clearly disappointed King told the Racing Post, “He worked very well on Saturday but we weren't happy with him a couple of days later and had him scanned last night. It is such as shame as we were delighted with his comeback run, but often when you patch up one thing, something else crops up."

Bensalem had been cut to a general offer of just 12/1 for the JLT Speciality Chase, a contest he won in 2011 when leading at the second fence from home only to be headed by Carole’s Legacy on the run-in before fighting back to score a memorable half-length victory.

He had appeared set to go very close to following up at Aintree just a few weeks later in the listed John Smith’s Handicap chase, only to make an almighty blunder at the penultimate fence, eventually having to settle for fifth in the race won by current John Smith’s Grand National leading fancy, Prince de Beauchene.

Donald McCain‘s Our Mick – third in the Cheltenham contest 12 months ago – is now the 7/1 favourite in the Betfair Cheltenham tips to go two places better this time around.

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