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Tuesday, October 14, 2008



GOLD SEEKING TO CONTINUE HEAD CHAMPION CONNECTION AT NEWMARKET




The Head family is probably the most famous dynasty in French racing and has an historic connection with the Group One Emirates Airline Champion Stakes (3.10pm), the £427,500 highlight of Champions’ Day on The NatWest Rowley Mile course at Newmarket on Saturday, October 18.

Alec Head trained two winners of the 10-furlong contest, Hafiz II (1955) and Rose Royale II (1957), while his daughter Criquette Head-Maarek sent out the 1993 heroine, Hatoof. This year the father/daughter partnership team up with Full Of Gold, who is owned by Alec and trained by Criquette.


Full Of Gold was a Group One winner as a two-year-old in 2007, taking the 10-furlong Criterium de Saint-Cloud, and made a winning return to action this season in the Group Two Prix Noailles over an extended 10 furlongs at Longchamp in April. The three-year-old son of Gold Away failed to shine on his next three starts, but showed a distinct return to form last time out when runner-up in the Group Three La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte over 10 furlongs on September 25.


Criquette Head-Maarek said today: “Full Of Gold will be running in the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes.


“He ran very well at Maisons-Laffitte last time. I think the reason why he ran poorly earlier this year is that he doesn’t really like Longchamp. Although he did win a Group Two there at the beginning of the year, he doesn’t go down the hill very well and is not happy there.


“The horse is fine at the moment although it’s going to be difficult to come and beat New Approach! I am not dreaming! As long as he runs well, I will be very pleased.


“The ground should be fine for him. That won’t be the excuse. Dominique Boeuf takes the ride.




VIC HOPING TO HIT THE HEIGHTS IN totesport.com CESAREWITCH




Trainer Declan Carroll is hoping that his stable star Hits Only Vic can continue his rich vein of form this season in the totesport.com Cesarewitch (3.50pm), the historic two-and-a-quarter mile handicap run on The NatWest Rowley Mile course at Newmarket on Champions’ Day.


The four-year-old Lemon Drop Kid gelding has won five of his 10 starts during the current campaign, finished second on four other occasions and only once been out of the frame on his seasonal debut. His two most recent successes came in a mile and three-quarter handicap at Haydock on September 16, when he shouldered top-weight of 10st to victory, and over a mile and five furlongs at Ayr on October 2, when he again defied top-weight.


Sponsors totesport currently rate Hits Only Vic, who is set to carry 8st 11lb, a 14/1 chance for glory on Saturday.


Carroll, who is based at Sledmere in East Yorkshire, said today: “The intention is to run Hits Only Vic in the totesport.com Cesarewitch.


“He’s in good nick and has won his last two races. Those wins came on soft ground and ideally we would like to see some rain. The more rain that comes, the bigger chance the horse would have.”

Although Hits Only Vic has not raced beyond two miles so far in his career, Carroll is confident that his charge will see out the extra quarter mile at Newmarket on Saturday.


He continued: “I don’t think the trip will be a problem, it really is more the ground that is my main concern.

“David Allan takes the ride once again.”



GROUND TIGHTENS UP AT NEWMARKET




‘We’re good, good to firm’ – Prosser

MICHAEL PROSSER, Director of Racing at Newmarket, this evening changed the going description to ‘good, good to firm in places’.

A marginal tightening up of the surface has resulted in Prosser switching from yesterday’s ‘good’ description.


He said: “The ground is good, good to firm in places with a GoingStick reading of 8.9 (from 8.5 on Monday).

“We experienced a shower at 5.00pm and there is the possibility of further light precipitation into Tuesday evening. Wednesday and Thursday are expected to bring further showers with an approximate total of three to four millimetres of rainfall anticipated.


“Friday and Saturday are forecast to be dry.”



TIZZARD HOPING FOR LIVELY START TO CHELTENHAM’S SEASON AT THE SHOWCASE




Meeting - The Showcase, Cheltenham Racecourse
Dates - Friday, October 17 & Saturday, October 18
First race - 2.20pm (both days)
Going - Currently good (watering to maintain)
Admission prices - Club/Tattersalls from £18. Best Mate from £9. Accompanied children under 16 admitted FREE to all enclosures. FREE car parking. Tickets available from www.cheltenham.co.uk or by calling 08445 793 003.


Trainer Colin Tizzard is looking forward to seeing his star chaser Joe Lively get the second season over fences off to a flying start in the £30,000 IG Index Chase (4.05pm), highlight of the first day’s racing at The Showcase on Friday, October 17.


The nine-year-old is set to make a return to The Showcase following a facile 17-length victory in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Novices’ Chase at the same Cheltenham meeting last season.

He progressed from that success to win a Grade Two novice chase at Newbury in December before returning to Prestbury Park to capture the Cheltenham Business Club Novices' Chase at The Boylesports International and he stepped up successfully to Grade One company at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Joe Lively also finished sixth behind Albertas Run in the Grade One Royal & SunAlliance Chase at The Festival in March, came fourth in an Aintree Grade Two in April and was runner-up on his latest start in the Cheltenham Collection Novices' Chase at the April meeting.


Tizzard said today: “Joe Lively is entered in the IG Index Handicap Chase and he definitely goes for the race. He seems as well as ever. He may have got tired with the amount of times he ran last season but he looks fantastic now.

“I was thrilled with his form prior to Christmas last season and he still ran well afterwards - he wasn’t beaten that far at Aintree. We’re rated 143 which I think is very fair and I am looking forward to running him on Friday.

“He’s won around there a couple of times and the good going is his type of ground.


“He was a nine-year-old novice last season so we raced him plenty of times. If he maintains a level of form in his first two runs this time then we will look after him and run him once a month instead of 10 or 12 times in a season.


“The Grand National is still on the agenda for this season. He’s going to run in some of the top-staying chases this time and we will give him this run at Cheltenham before deciding on something like the Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton. We’ll take stock after that and decide whether to go for Aintree.”

Joe Lively, allocated 11st 10lb in the handicap, faces some tough opposition in the extended three-mile IG Index Chase, for which 21 horses have been entered. Last year’s winner Ardaghey could run for Nigel Twiston Davies, and the Naunton-based handler may also be represented by top-weight Fundamentalist.


The race could also see 2007 Scottish Grand National third Parson’s Legacy , trained by Philip Hobbs, make his seasonal reappearance alongside the Paul Nicholls-trained Cornish Sett, who chased home Sir Rembrandt in the Grade Three Servo Computer Services Trophy Handicap Chase at The Open last year. The lightly-raced Noir Et Vert, fourth in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase at The Festival, has been entered by trainer Ferdy Murphy.


Tizzard has a possible representative in the feature race of the second day of The Showcase, the £50,000 Dick Francis “Silks” Handicap Chase (3.25pm), with progressive chaser Sou’wester among the 26 entries.


The eight-year-old racked four victories in the space of seven weeks between March and May and Tizzard is keen to see if the gelding can keep the sequence going with a step up to two and a half miles.

The Dorset-based handler explained: “Sou’wester could make the step up to two and a half miles in the Dick Francis “Silks” Handicap Chase. He’s also declared to run at Kempton on the weekend but I would prefer to take him to Cheltenham if the ground is good or softer.

“He won his last three races over two miles and I was thinking about trying to make him into a really good two miler but I’m looking to step him up a bit in distance now. He won well enough over the trip at Plumpton in December.


“We bought him out of a seller and he began last season off a mark of 79 and finished the campaign on 142. He’s a real hero who tries his hardest and will see how he goes against the big boys. He keeps winning and he’s beaten some useful types so I am hopeful that he can continue to improve.”

The third, fourth, seventh and eighth from last season’s Grade Three Racing Post Plate at The Festival, Fundamentalist, Bible Lord, Patman du Charmil and Cossack Dancer could all run, while 2004 Paddy Power Gold Cup victor Celestial Gold may also take his chance.


Nation State could return to Cheltenham, having triumphed on his latest start in the Messier-Dowty Landing Gear Novices' Limited Handicap Chase at the April meeting,. He may face the second and fifth from that race, Sir Bathwick and Gold Medallist, while Lord Ryeford, fourth in this contest last year, is another possible starter.

The Showcase gives members of the public the chance to get more involved in different aspects of racing. Prior to racing, racegoers can visit the parade ring and the weighing room and even win the chance to judge the Best Turned Out horse in a race, watch a race as an owner or make a trophy presentation. The Showcase Exhibition brings together information about breeding, owning, training, riding and caring for horses in their retirement, plus demonstrations covering aspects as diverse as how a horse is saddled and how a fence is built.


GOING
The going at Cheltenham is currently GOOD, with a GoingStick reading of 7.7. The outlook for the rest of the week is unsettled, with the chance of some rain over the next two days. The course will be watered to maintain good ground.



LEE HOPING TO STRIKE IN skybet.com SUPPORTING SPINAL RESEARCH BOBBY RENTON HANDICAP CHASE AT WETHERBY TOMORROW & PEPPORONI PETE SET FOR totesuper7 HANDICAP HURDLE




Wetherby’s season starts tomorrow, Wednesday, October 15, as the Yorkshire course celebrates its 18th annual Spinal Research Charity Day.


The highlight of the seven-race card is the £15,000 skybet.com Supporting Spinal Research Bobby Renton Handicap Chase (3.50pm), run over an extended two and a half miles, for which 11 horses have been declared.


Trainer Richard Lee is hoping that consistent chaser Borora can get his head in front following a series of gallant efforts in handicap chases throughout last season, including a game second over this course and distance in the Listed bet365.com Handicap Chase in November.


The nine-year-old gelding finished fifth last time out in a handicap chase at Uttoxeter on September 21, and Herefordshire-based Lee is looking forward to seeing a good run on Borora’s return to Wetherby.


Lee commented: "We’ve declared Borora in the skybet.com Supporting Spinal Research Bobby Renton Handicap Chase and he’s in great form. He’ll love the ground and we are optimistic that he will run well.


“I walked the course several times last season and thought it wasn’t that bad. The ground on the bottom bend, where they have realigned the motorway, seemed fine. It can’t be that bad at the moment because there seem to be plenty of runners declared for tomorrow.


"His best run of last season was at Wetherby where he finished second to Mister McGoldrick and we are hopeful of a good run on his return to the course. He enjoys the big fences there.

"He’s a difficult horse to win with because he is too high up in the handicap and he always runs a solid race. He’s sound and well but you just need a bit of luck in competitive races like this."

Borora looks set to face some stiff competition in the skybet.com Supporting Spinal Research Bobby Renton Handicap Chase, with last year’s victor and four-time Wetherby winner Manbow taking his chance for local trainer Micky Hammond.

Other notable declarations include Which Pocket, 10th in the Topham Chase over the Grand National fences in April, Yes Sir, a 15-time winner for trainer Peter Bowen, and Or De Grugy, who took the Arthur Stephenson Novices' Handicap Chase on his last visit to Wetherby in November, 2007.


The £10,000 totesuper7 Handicap Hurdle (3.15pm) has eight runners declared and Banbury-based handler Milton Harris is expecting Pepporoni Pete to continue the good form he has shown since joining the trainer from Paul Nicholls’ yard in May this year.


The seven-year-old gelding beat subsequent Grade Two bumper winner Pangbourne on his racecourse debut and finished fifth in a Grade Two Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot in 2006. He signalled a return to form on his latest start for Harris, when was a close second to Sunnyhillboy in a handicap hurdle at Exeter on October 8.

Harris said: "Pepporoni Pete has been declared in the totesuper7 Handicap Hurdle and he’s very well. He won’t mind good to firm ground and runs as long as there is no rough ground. The fields have held up well and I would imagine that the ground will be fine.


"I think he will be favourite for the race. He’s gone up 5lb for his run the other day but he runs off his old mark so he’s officially 5lb well in.

"I have a feeling that we ran into a good horse at Exeter but we did get them at it and he only just got beat in the end. He travelled well there and jumped well and we just needed a bit of luck.


"If he runs up to that form, then he should win. We gave him a couple of runs to get some fitness into him. He ran better at Plumpton and he got beat by a better handicapped horse at Exeter.

"The handicapper says he should win tomorrow and if he runs his race he won’t be far away."

Pepporoni Pete’s seven rivals in the totesuper7 Handicap Hurdle include the Hammond-trained Tranos, who was twice successful in Perth handicap hurdles over the summer, Irish challenger Coolnaharan and Market Rasen novice hurdle victor Still At Lunch.


With a total of 88 horses declared for tomorrow’s seven-race card, chief executive and clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson commented: "I am delighted with the support that trainers have shown towards the course and we can now look forward to some competitive racing action tomorrow.


"The ground is currently firm, good to firm in places. We have completed our watering cycle and there is the possibility of up to 12 millimetres of rain overnight."

The fixture on October 15 is in aid of Spinal Research and is Wetherby’s 18th raceday for the charity. The fundraising day was set up and run by Rachel Wright, who injured her spine in a riding accident, until her death in early 2006. The "Friends Of Rachel" now continue to support the event, and more than £300,000 has been raised for Spinal Research over the last 17 years.


Organisers are hoping to beat last year’s total of £20,000 through fundraising activities throughout the day. A luncheon prior to the day’s racing action will include a charity auction, with top lots including a photo collage of racing legends donated by Richard Dunwoody and the chance to go and see Channel Four’s Morning Line live courtesy of John Francome.


Bad Girls and Emmerdale actress Claire King, an enthusiastic racehorse owner, will be supporting the event alongside the former three-day eventer Claire Lomas, who was left paralysed in a fall at Osberton Horse Trials in May, 2007.


Wetherby’s next meeting is the prestigious two-day bet 365 Charlie Hall Meeting, which takes place on October 31 and November 1. Tickets are available by calling the course on 01937 582035 or online at www.wetherbyracing.co.uk.


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