OUTSTANDING 54-STRONG ENTRY FOR GREATWOOD HANDICAP HURDLE - Lucy Wadham considering £50,000 contest for Fenix
This year's £50,000 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, to be run on Saturday, November 13 at The Open at Cheltenham, has attracted 54 high-class entries, including 13 possible Irish raiders.
Inglis Drever heads the list of potential contenders for the Grade Three contest over an extended two miles. Howard Johnson's champion staying hurdler, winner of the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at The Festival as well as the inaugural BHB Order of Merit last season, is one of three entries from the trainer's County Durham yard and confirmed his wellbeing with an impressive victory in Saturday's West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby.
Johnson could also saddle No Refuge, victorious in the two mile five furlong, Grade One Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle at The Festival, and Dalaram.
One trainer eyeing this year's pize is Newmarket-based Lucy Wadham, who could run Fenix. The six-year-old put up some notable performances last season, notably when runner-up to Medison in the Imperial Cup at Sandown.
Wadham reported today: "We'd like to go to Cheltenham, it's in my thoughts to run the horse. He's fit and well and in very good order. He'll probably improve for the run but we're keen to see how he operates at Cheltenham".
The trainer did sound a note of caution, stating that the horse would be an unlikely starter if the likes of Inglis Drever and Rooster Booster remained in the race and that her charge needed some give in the ground to take his chance.
"We'd be doubtful if those top ones run because we would be out of the handicap. He likes cut so good to soft or softer is fine, but good ground wouldn't be fine."
Wadham confirmed that Fenix would be aimed at the top two-mile handicap hurdles run at Sandown, including the Imperial Cup, in which he has finished placed for the last two years.
"We're looking at races at Sandown as he seems to love it there. A stiff two miles is what he wants and we want to go to Sandown as much as possible, but there's no race for him there until December so we're looking for something before then. He was in the conditional jockeys' race last week but he had a corn so we had to take him out although he's fine now. I put him in the Elite Hurdle but I think he won't get in the weights there. He takes his racing well and is better off with these light weights in the big handicaps than with a lot of weight in smaller races."
Accordion Etoile crossed the Irish Sea to land this race last year for trainer Paul Nolan, beating Westender by three lengths, to become only the second Irish horse to land the prize since 1990, following the Jessica Harrington-trained Space Trucker in 1996.
Nolan hopes to keep the race in the family as his two-strong entry includes French Accordion, a brother to last year's winner and successful in a Grade 3 novices' hurdle over two miles at Tipperary on October 2. Sirius Storm, winner of a two and a half mile handicap hurdle at Naas on October 16, completes the duo.
The list of potential Irish challengers also includes Power Elite, fifth to Essex in the totesport Trophy at Newbury in February and Kilbeggan Lad, winner of the Guinness Handicap Hurdle over two miles at Listowel in September.
Martin Pipe always plays a strong hand at The Open and he has saddled the winner of the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle four times in the last 15 years with Liadett (1990), Valfinet (1992), Rodock (1999) and Westender (2001).
Westender could again take his chance as he is one of six Pipe entries that also includes last season's prolific winner Marcel, victorious over the course and distance in the Sharp Novices' Hurdle at last season's The Open, and Buena Vista, first past the post on his last four starts including when landing the valuable totescoop6 Summer Hurdle at Market Rasen on July 16.
Fontanesi scored at The Festival in the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle in March and could take his chance. Tamarinbleu and classy French recruit Don't Be Shy complete the Pipe contingent.
Rooster Booster, triumphant on his seasonal debut at Huntingdon on October 15, when he defeated Genghis by five lengths, won this race in 2002 under top-weight of 11st 12lb en route to victory in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle at The Festival the following March. Philip Hobbs could unleash the veteran in a bid to repeat that success in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle and improve on his fourth-place finish last year.
Hobbs may also run Made In Japan, winner of the JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival in 2004 but subsequently disappointing over fences last season.
Paul Nicholls saddled Rigmarole to win the race in 2003 at 33/1 and he has seven entered this time including last year's third Perouse. He could be joined by Cerium who won the Jet UK Juvenile Novices' Hurdle over this trip at The Open last year and later ran fourth to Penzance in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival. Stablemate Phar Bleu was one place behind on both occasions.
Nicholls could also run Sporazene, winner of the 2004 Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle, Darrias, successful in a novice hurdle at the course on October 26, Albuhera and Chockdee.
The Jonjo O'Neill-trained Intersky Falcon, third to Hardy Eustace in the 2004 Smurfit Champion Hurdle, is entered along with stablemates Lingo, unraced since capturing the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January of that year, and Hasty Prince.
Self Defense has been in fine form in Group company on the Flat and the 2003 Smurfit Champion Hurdle fourth could bid to build on that for trainer Emma Lavelle.
Mighty Man proved himself one of last season's most exciting novice hurdlers as he went through the season unbeaten in four starts, culminating in a half-length defeat of Dusky Warbler in the Grade 2 John Smith's Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree last April. Henry Daly's charge could renew rivalry with the gelding, one of three Gary Moore-trained possibles.
Royal Shakespeare disappointed a few times last season but showed some high-class form when chasing home Ghengis in the Scottish Champion Hurdle in April.
Nicky Henderson's three possible runners are Non So, The Market Man and Afrad, a winner twice on the flat this summer and a well-beaten favourite in the totesport Cesarewitch at Newmarket on his last start.
Weights for the Greatwood Hurdle will be revealed on Wednesday, November 2.
The Greatwood Hurdle is the eighth of 63 races involved in the British Horseracing Board's Order of Merit competition. The overall winner with the most points throughout the season will receive 200,000 - 75% to the owner , 12.5% to the trainer and the sane again to the stable staff.
The winner of the Greatwood Hurdle, as a Grade Three event, will score 10 points while horses placed second to eighth will be allocated points on a sliding scale down to one point for eighth.
The Open (Friday, Saturday & Sunday, November 11-13) is three days which herald the moment when Jump Racing takes centre stage and people gather to celebrate top quality steeplechasing and hurdle racing. Each day has its own character and together they form an irresistible package. In recent years horses have travelled over from Ireland and Cheltenham has welcomed international challengers from France, Norway and the Czech Republic.
Friday, November 11 is Countryside Day, Saturday, November 12 is Paddy Power Gold Cup Day, Cheltenham's first great occasion of the season with a crowd of 25,000 expected to witness the £110,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup, while Sunday, November 13 features the £50,000 Greatwood Hurdle.
Friday/Sunday admission prices are Club/Tattersalls: £20 (£18 in advance, £16 if booked online); Group Rate (15 or more): £16; 16-24s: £12; Best Mate: £8 (£6.40 if booked online); Rooster Booster Raceday Package: £46 and Best Mate Raceday Package: £25.
Saturday's admission prices are Club: £30 (£25 in advance, £24 if booked online, 16-24s £20); Tattersalls: £20 (£18 in advance, £16 if booked online); Group Rate (15 or more): £16; Tattersalls seat: £15; Best Mate: £10 (£8 in advance); Group Rate (15 or more): £7; Rooster Booster Raceday Package: £46 and Best Mate Raceday Package: £25.
BREAKDOWN OF ENTRIES BY TRAINER WITH PAST SUCCESSES (SINCE 1990) IN THE GREATWOOD HANDICAP HURDLE
Philip Hobbs (2002 Rooster Booster)
Noel Meade IRE
Willie Mullins IRE
Paul Nolan IRE (2004 Accordion Etoile)
Joe Crowley IRE
Davy Fitzgerald IRE
Michael Halford IRE
Michael Hourigan IRE
Sandra McCarthy IRE
Colm Murphy IRE
William O'Brien IRE
Oliver Sherwood (1993 Leotard, 2000 Hulysse Royal)
THE GREATWOOD HANDICAP HURDLE
Class A, Grade Three, Order of Merit Race No 8, £50,000 Total Prize Fund. For 4yo+, two miles, half a furlong. Penalties: after October 29, a winner of a Class A to C hurdle race 6lb - no penalty to increase a horse's weight above 11st 12lb. Entries cllosed October 26, entries revealed October 31 (54 entries), weight revealed November 2, five-day confirmation stage November November, final declaration stage, 10.00am, november 11. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Sunday, October 30.
Form Horse Age Owner Trainer
P4440-4 ADAMANT APPROACH (IRE) 11 Greenstar Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
51011-1 ADMIRAL (IRE) 4 Willie McKay Richard Guest
312-24 AFRAD (FR) 4 The Not Afraid Partnership Nicky Henderson
002/42-1 ALBUHERA (IRE) 7 David & F A Jackson Paul Nicholls
3r1230 BLUE CORRIG (IRE) 5 Exors Of The Late R Forristal Joe Crowley IRE
33-3234 BORORA 6 Mrs E M Clarke Richard Lee
16-1111 BUENA VISTA (IRE) 4 Matt Archer & The Late Jean Broadhurst Martin Pipe
110140- CERIUM (FR) 4 Barry Fulton, Tony Hayward, S Fisher, Liam Brady Paul Nicholls
25055-3 CHOCKDEE (FR) 5 John & Barbara Cotton Paul Nicholls
01303-4 DALARAM (IRE) 5 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson
123411 DARRIAS (GER) 4 Peter Hart Paul Nicholls
1210- DIEGO CAO (IRE) 4 Vetlab Supplies Ltd Gary Moore
22321-1 DON'T BE SHY (FR) 4 David Johnson Martin Pipe
13132- DUSKY WARBLER 6 Mike Charlton And Rodger Sargent Gary Moore
0021-41 EYE CANDY (IRE) 4 Sandra McCarthy Sandra McCarthy IRE
1-31113 FAIT LE JOJO (FR) 8 M Ephgrave Liam Corcoran
F6026-P FENIX (GER) 6 P A Philipps, T S Redman & J S Redman Lucy Wadham
FF1105 FONTANESI (IRE) 5 David Johnson Martin Pipe
405-211 FRENCH ACCORDION (IRE) 5 Padraig Brady Paul Nolan IRE
1111-62 GENGHIS (IRE) 6 Khan Partners Peter Bowen
011/5/1-2 GURU 7 Will Bennett Gary Moore
10/115-0 HANDY MONEY 8 William Dixon Alan King
0U13-43 HASTY PRINCE 7 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
F10-4r1 HERONSTOWN (IRE) 6 Noel Monaghan William O'Brien IRE
03330-2 HOWLE HILL (IRE) 5 Mrs J Brown, R Benton, R Devereux, R Lucas Alan King
21112-1 INGLIS DREVER 6 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson
345/460- INTERSKY FALCON 8 Interskyracing.com & Jacqui O'Neill Jonjo O'Neill
21216-4 KARELIAN 4 John Duddy Colm Murphy IRE
2-01512 KILBEGGAN LAD (IRE) 7 Golf at Ballyneety Syndicate Michael Hourigan IRE
121/- LINGO (IRE) 6 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
134046- MADE IN JAPAN (JPN) 5 Terry Evans Peter Hobbs
51100- MANORSON (IRE) 6 Byrne Bros (Formwork) Limited Oliver Sherwood
211306- MARCEL (FR) 5 David Johnson Martin Pipe
4-31601 MASRAHI (IRE) 4 Mirage Racing Syndicate Noel Meade IRE
1111- MIGHTY MAN (FR) 5 Joss Hanbury Henry Daly
66-412F MOUNTAIN SNOW (IRE) 5 Austin Fanning Willie Mullins IRE
401324 NASSARO (IRE) 5 B Healy Mick Halford IRE
1211- NO REFUGE (IRE) 5 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson
2/FF000- NON SO (FR) 7 ROA Dawn Run Partnership Nicky Henderson
203-51P PEROUSE 7 S Mcvie Paul Nicholls
116252- PHAR BLEU (FR) 4 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls
3113/05- POWER ELITE (IRE) 5 Des Sharkey Noel Meade IRE
661103 RIGHTS OF MAN (IRE) 6 Mrs A McCarthy Davy Fitzgerald IRE
211100- ROMAN ARK 7 Richard Collins Malcolm Jefferson
2051-41 ROOSTER BOOSTER 11 Terry Warner Philip Hobbs
4302F-P ROYAL SHAKESPEARE (FR) 6 John Webb Steve Gollings
2/42102- SELF DEFENSE 8 Fraser Miller Racing Emma Lavelle
321-541 SIRIUS STORM (IRE) 5 Sirius Racing Syndicate Paul Nolan IRE
3010/1F- SPORAZENE (IRE) 6 Ged Mason Paul Nicholls
102024- TAMARINBLEU (FR) 5 The Arthur White Partnership Martin Pipe
121-1 THE MARKET MAN (NZ) 5 Sir Robert Ogden Nicky Henderson
440/521/- TRAMANTANO 6 Raymond Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies
3134R-4 WESTENDER (FR) 9 Matt Archer & The Late Jean Broadhurst Martin Pipe
1-31110 YES SIR (IRE) 6 Ms Y M Hill Peter Bowen
HONG KONG BREEDERS CLUB INAUGURATES BREEDER OF THE YEAR AWARD
The Hong Kong Breeders Club today announced the inauguration of the Hong Kong Breeder of the Year Award.
The Award will recognize excellence and accomplishment by a thoroughbred breeder based in either Hong Kong or China and celebrate international successes of Hong Kong racehorses and racehorse owners.
The first winner of the Award will be announced in Hong Kong on Monday 12th December, the day after the Hong Kong Jockey Club's "world turf championship" day at Sha Tin.
Major-General Guy Watkins, chairman of the Hong Kong Breeders Club International Advisory Board, said today: "I warmly welcome this new initiative. The Award will recognize past excellence and will also encourage a future interest in thoroughbred breeding from within Hong Kong and China".
When deciding on the Award criteria, HKBC confirmed that the racecourse test would always be the ultimate arbiter of thoroughbred excellence. Performances on the track will be the most important assessment factor, with particular weight being given to results in Graded, Group and Listed events.
The Award will be based principally on race performances during the past calendar year, but the selection committee may also consider other factors such as: length of time of a candidate's involvement in the breeding industry; the extent and value of a candidate's investment in breeding, bloodstock and/or in real estate, sales results and past record of successes as a breeder; administrative contributions to the racing/breeding industry such as Breeders' Associations, Race Club Boards or racing related charities or in training of young people in the racing/breeding industry.
Although the Selection Committee may consider other factors the emphasis would always be on quality rather than quantity. The Committee will take due note of any fresh breeding industry initiative that has taken place during the past year; such as the acquisition of active racing stock destined for stud after retirement. They will also be looking for professional awareness and expertise in the Award winner, such as the ability to anticipate or initiate successful new trends.
"Members of the Hong Kong Breeders Club will make nominations that will then go to an independent Selection Committee. They will choose the inaugural HKBC Breeder of the Year", said Mr. Anderson Chan, CEO of the HKBC.
The independent Selection Committee will be chaired by Major-General Watkins who will be joined by three distinguished members; Mr. Murray Bell, Racing Editor of Hong Kong's leading English language daily, The South China Morning Post, Mr. Paul Cheng, racehorse owner and current Hong Kong Jockey Club Steward; and Mr. Ronald Napier, former Chairman of the Jockey Club of South Africa and a successful breeder.
Madeleine Sundgren, the Awards Event Manager, added, "The presentation of this award will provide a very exciting moment in the history of Hong Kong thoroughbred breeding, and will also help local Hong Kong breeders to gain recognition within the industry. I look forward to seeing the stock from these breeders on racetracks across the globe".
The Hong Kong Breeders Club was founded by Mr. Richard Hui, Mr. Paul Kan, Mr. Peter Yip and friends. Their aim is to promote thoroughbred breeding among racing enthusiasts in Hong Kong and China; both as an interesting and enjoyable hobby, and as a hobby with possible investment potential. The founders also hope to help Club members integrate their thoroughbred breeding interests into a family lifestyle. This would be through shared access to vacation farmhouses, golf courses, fishing trips and other leisure facilities in exclusive and sought after locations that are close to stud farms.
In addition to thoroughbred breeding the Club is also devoted to helping improve the standard of equestrian sport in Hong Kong and China, as well as supporting approved charity and/or research projects through the HKBC Charity Foundation.