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Tuesday, October 14, 2003


Declan Carroll today revealed that he is hoping that Benbyas will make his seasonal reappearance in the £50,000 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday, November 16.

Last year the Rambo Dancer gelding competed in the equivalent of this event, belying his starting price of 25/1 to finish fourth behind subsequent Smurfit Champion Hurdle hero Rooster Booster.

"If Benbyas is ready in time, he would probably start off in the Greatwood Hurdle - he's a little bit more behind schedule than he was last year as we took him back in a little bit later with the ground being so firm because he does like some cut in the ground," explained the North Yorkshire-based trainer.

"I would say it's probably an 80% chance that he would be ready but obviously the ground would have to be right for him as well."

After his fine effort at Prestbury Park in 2002, Benbyas went on to win a handicap hurdle at Doncaster by 19 lengths from Full Irish and he returned to Cheltenham in the New Year when seven lengths runner-up to Native New Yorker in the Western Daily Press Handicap Hurdle.

He also ran well in the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot and the Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury, before lining up at Cheltenham's National Hunt Festival for the Coral Cup, which was won by Xenophon.

According to his handler, the six-year-old has progressed over the summer.

"Benbyas has done really well and we're going much the same route as we did with him last year.

"He's come in big and strong with plenty of condition on him and he's in great form. Because he came in later than last year, it's just going to take a bit more work to get him ready. Obviously, it's a long season and we don't want to be overdoing him either. He thinks he's a two-year-old at the moment going out with the two-year-olds and he's jumping and kicking."

Benbyas's success at Town Moor in December was secured on soft ground and his trainer would like to see some rain.

He said: "Without a shadow of a doubt the softer the ground, the better the horse Benbyas is - the more testing conditions bring out the best in him."

Ironically, the ongoing good weather has meant that Benbyas will again line-up for all the top handicap hurdles this term rather than pursuing an alternative career over fences.

"We were thinking about going novice chasing with him but I think we are going to put that on hold for a bit," outlined Carroll. "We'd want to be schooling now over fences but with the ground being so firm, we haven't been able to do it so I think we'll leave novice chasing until next season."

The Greatwood Handicap Hurdle is the feature race on Sunday, November 16 which is the third and final day of The Open 2003 that begins on Friday, November 14.


Concern expressed over likely attendances this Saturday

With the vital Rugby World Cup clash between England and South Africa kicking off at 1.00pm this Saturday, officials at Newmarket have expressed concern at the effect the game might have on the crowd figures for Champions' Day, the most valuable raceday of the year at the Home of Racing. In a bid to counter any negative impact on the gate, the racecourse is showing the game live and uninterrupted on a giant screen behind the stands in the Grandstand Enclosure (accessible to all Members' Enclosure racegoers).

"We are hoping that with great weather in prospect, people will arrive early and soak up the atmosphere of not one but two premier sporting events at one venue," said Lisa Hancock, Newmarket's Managing Director.

"There's always the fear that people might stay at home in front of the TV, but we hope rugby fans will come to Newmarket and experience the excitement of a sensational Champions' Day card, as well as watching England put the Springboks in their place!"

Saturday's fixture already has racing fans drooling with anticipation. The highlights include the £400,000 Group One Emirates Airline Champion Stakes, which has attracted its strongest line-up for several years, and an outstanding looking Group One £230,000 Darley Dewhurst Stakes, featuring no less than eight of the top ten in the current 2000 Guineas ante post market.

Gates open at 11am on Saturday morning, the rugby kicks off at 1pm and the first race, the Group Three Jockey Club Cup, likely to feature public favourite Persian Punch, is at 1.40pm.

Members' Enclosure admission costs £35, Grandstand & Paddock £18 and the Silver Ring (where the rugby will be shown on a television) just £5. All accompanied children under 16 admitted FREE to all Enclosures. For ticket details and advance booking, call the hotline on 01638 675 500.


The Irish Premiere of Seabiscuit will take place in Goffs, Kill, Co Kildare on Wednesday, October 29, at 7pm, two weeks prior to its Irish release. Goffs will be transformed for one night only into a top quality cinema in order to create a unique event - the Irish premiere of this wonderfully moving film in this highly appropriate setting - a never to be repeated experience.

From Universal Pictures, Dreamworks Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment, Seabiscuit, an American epic of triumph and perseverance set during the Great Depression, is based on the best-selling book (by Laura Hillenbrand) that was one of the most popular and widely read non-fiction books of recent years. It is the story of three men - a jockey (Tobey Maguire), a trainer (Chris Cooper) and a businessman (Jeff Bridges) - and the down-and-out racehorse that took them and the entire nation on the ride of a lifetime.

There are a limited number of tickets available at 100; the tickets include wine and canapés on arrival and the first Irish viewing of the movie. Special guests include Gary Stevens who stars as George Woolfe in the movie as well as being a well-known American jockey in his own right.

This night is in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund under the auspices of the Kieran Kelly Fund.

Doors open at 7pm. Film commences 8.30pm sharp.

For tickets sales please contact Perrin O'Dwyer PR & Event Management on 045 485 852 or email info@podpublicrelations.com.

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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