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Monday, January 12, 2004



BEST MATE ONE OF 32 GOING FOR GOLD




25 In Queen Mother Champion Chase

The brilliant Best Mate is one of 32 entries revealed today for the 2004 Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup, which takes place on the final day of the National Hunt Festival, Thursday, March 18. The Henrietta Knight-trained champion became only the sixth horse to successfully defend his title when following up on his 2002 success last year. He is rated a 4/5 chance with the sponsors to record a third successive Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup victory, a feat only achieved before by the legendary trio of Arkle (1964-66), Cottage Rake (1948-50) and Golden Miller, who won jump racing's top chase five times from 1932-36.


But there is a diverse and talented team of opponents also dreaming of landing the 2004 Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup, worth £350,000, including Kingscliff, winner of last season's Christie's Foxhunter Chase at the Festival, and Sir Rembrandt, both hailing from the stable of Robert Alner, successful in the 1998 race with Cool Dawn.


Both Commanche Court and Truckers Tavern, runners-up to Best Mate in the last two Gold Cups, have been entered again, while the young pretenders include the Jonjo O'Neill-trained Keen Leader and Martin Pipe's star novice Therealbandit, who has twice won over fences at Cheltenham.


Pipe has five entries in total, including the 11-year-olds Cyfor Malta and Shooting Light, You're Agoodun and Toto Toscato, who has not raced since March, 2000. Pipe's great rival Paul Nicholls has just two entries, Sleeping Night and Venn Ottery, who has been moved to the top trainer by permit-holder Oliver Carter.


There is a nine-strong challenge from Ireland, headed by Beef Or Salmon, a third-fence faller in the 2003 Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup. Last year's third, Harbour Pilot, the veteran Florida Pearl and his stablemates Macs Gildoran and Rule Supreme are among the other Irish-trained entries.


Both entries from France boast excellent credentials. The Guillaume Macaire-trained Jair Du Cochet beat Best Mate in the Tote Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon in February before being pulled up when a warm favourite in the Pertemps King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. First Gold, trained by Francois Doumen, finished third in the Kempton event.


There are 25 entries in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, run on Wednesday, March 17, including last year's thilling winner Moscow Flyer, who has still never been beaten when completing the course. Never before have the winners of the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup and Queen Mother Champion Chase both scored in successive years.


He is one of eight entries from Ireland in the two-mile showpiece alongside the likes of Le Coudray, who was second to Best Mate in the Ericsson Chase at Leopardstown on December 28 and Native Upmanship, the Queen Mother Champion Chase runner-up for the past two seasons.


Paul Nicholls, successful in the 1999 race with Call Equiname, has six entries this year. These are last season's Irish Independent Arkle Chase hero Azertyuiop, who was due to contest Saturday's Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot, Cenkos, recent Castleford Chase winner Kadarann, Le Roi Miguel, Venn Ottery and Young Devereaux, another engaged in the Victor Chandler Chase. Martin Pipe's three entries are Pertemps King George VI Chase second Tiutchev, Seebald and Latalomne, who has moved from Brian Ellison's stable. The 2002 winner Flagship Uberalles and Palarshan, successful in last season's Grand Annual Challenge Cup Chase, add further interest to the Queen Mother Champion Chase.


There are supplementary entry stages for both the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup and Queen Mother Champion Chase five days before each race and respectively costing £17,500 and £12,500.


Edward Gillespie, Cheltenham's Managing Director, commented: "There are just over two months until the 2004 Festival and the publication of the entries for our two flagship chases, the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup and Queen Mother Champion Chase, begins the countdown to March 16, 17 and 18. Further interest is added as Best Mate and Moscow Flyer bid to make history by becoming the first pair of Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup and Queen Mother Champion Chase winners to both land the races in successive years.


"It is rare year that the Pertemps King George VI Chase winner is not entered in either race and this adds further weight to the inclusion of a two-and-a-half mile Championship in 2005."

NATIONAL HUNT FESTIVAL 2004
CHELTENHAM

TUESDAY, MARCH 16, 2004
Old Course

Race Title Distance Prize Money
Letheby & Christopher Supreme Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 110yds £100,000
Irish Independent Arkle Chase (Grade 1) 2m £140,000
SMURFIT CHAMPION HURDLE (Grade 1) 2m 110yds £300,000
William Hill National Hunt Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 110yds £80,000
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase (Amateur Riders) 3m 110yds £50,000
Pertemps Final (Handicap Hurdle) (Listed) 3m 1.5f £60,000

Total £730,000


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17, 2004
Old Course

Race Title Distance Prize Money
Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 5f £100,000
Royal & SunAlliance Chase (Grade 1) 3m 110yds £140,000
QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE (Grade 1) 2m £250,000
Coral Cup (Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3) 2m 5f £75,000
National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders) 4m £50,000
Mildmay of Flete Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m 4.5f £75,000
Weatherbys Champion Bumper (NH Flat Race) (Grade 1) 2m 110yds £40,000

Total £730,000


THURSDAY, MARCH 18, 2004
New Course

Race Title Distance Prize Money
JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 1f £100,000
Bonusprint Stayers' Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m £140,000
TOTE CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP (Grade 1) 3m 2.5f £350,000
Christie's Foxhunter Chase 3m 2.5f £40,000
Cheltenham Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m 110yds £75,000
Cathcart Challenge Cup Chase (Grade 2) 2m 5f £80,000
Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 1f £65,000

Total £850,000

RECORD TOTAL PRIZE MONEY IN 2004 OF £2,310,000

2004 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL
NUMBER OF ENTRIES

TOTAL ENTRIES

QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE
2004 - 25
2003 - 23
2002 - 32
2001 - 25
2000 - 22
1999 - 28
1998 - 19
1997 - 17
1996 - 21
1995 - 15
1994 - 16
1993 - 24
1992 - 20
1991 - 15
1990 - 15


TOTE CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP
2004 - 32
2003 - 49
2002 - 43
2001 - 38
2000 - 44
1999 - 46
1998 - 38
1997 - 44
1996 - 38
1995 - 35
1994 - 46
1993 - 31
1992 - 25
1991 - 29
1990 - 32


IRISH-TRAINED ENTRIES

QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE
2004 - 8
2003 - 6
2002 - 5
2001 - 5
2000 - 3
1999 - 5
1998 - 2
1997 - 4
1996 - 3
1995 - 0
1994 - 1
1993 - 4
1992 - 2
1991 - 2
1990 - 2


TOTE CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP
2004 - 9
2003 - 9
2002 - 8
2001 - 13
2000 - 9
1999 - 7
1998 - 6
1997 - 8
1996 - 7
1995 - 6
1994 - 7
1993 - 6
1992 - 2
1991 - 3
1990 - 2


Irish-trained successes
at the Cheltenham Festival
2003 - 6
2002 - 5
2001-cancelled
2000-3
1999-5
1998-4
1997-3
1996-7*
1995-4
1994-3
1993-6
1992-2
1991-2
1990-2
1989-0
1988-1
1987-1
1986-4
1985-2
1984-4
1983-5
1982-6
1981-3
1980-4
1979-5
1978-6
1977-7*
* (equal highest)

LEADING NATIONAL HUNT FESTIVAL TRAINERS
2003
Jonjo O'Neill 3 winners

2002
Martin Pipe 3

2001
cancelled

2000
Nicky Henderson 4

1999
Paul Nicholls 3

1998
Martin Pipe 4

1997
Martin Pipe 4

1996
Ferdy Murphy 2
Edward O'Grady IRE
Martin Pipe

1995
David Nicholson 3

1994
David Nicholson 2
Edward O'Grady IRE
Martin Pipe

1993
Nicky Henderson 2
Martin Pipe
Nigel Twiston-Davies

1992
Nicky Henderson 2
David Nicholson
Simon Sherwood

1991
Martin Pipe 3

1990
Nicky Henderson 2

1989
Toby Balding 2
John Edwards
David Elsworth
Josh Gifford
Martin Pipe

1988
Josh Gifford 3

1987
Toby Balding 2
Nicky Henderson
Fred Winter

1986
Nicky Henderson 3

1985
Nicky Henderson 3

1984
Michael Dickinson 3

1983
Michael Dickinson 3

1982
Michael Dickinson 2
Fulke Walwyn

1981
Peter Easterby 3

1980
John Edwards 2
Edward O'Grady IRE
Bob Turnell
Fred Winter

GOING AT THE NATIONAL HUNT FESTIVAL SINCE 1981


YEAR/ TUESDAY / WEDNESDAY / THURSDAY

2003 Good Good to Soft in places/ Good Good to Soft in places/ Good Good to Soft in places,

2002 Good to Soft, Good in places/ Good to Soft/ Good, Good to Soft in places

2001 cancelled

2000 /Good / Good, Good to Firm in places /Good to Firm,Good in places

1999 /Good to Soft,Soft in places/ Good to Soft,Good in places/ Good to Soft,

1998 / Good to Soft/ Good/ Good

1997 /Good /Good, Good to Firm in places/ Good, Good to Firm in places

1996 / Good to Soft/ Good to Soft,Good in places/ Good

1995 /Soft/ Soft/ Soft

1994 /Good, Soft in places/ Good to Soft/ Good, Good to Soft in places

1993 /Ch: Good, Good to Firm in places Hdle: Good to Firm,Good in places/ Good to Firm/ Good to Firm

1992 /Good / Good / Good

1991 /Good to Soft/ Good to Soft / Good

1990 / Good to Firm / Good / Good to Firm

1989 / Good to Soft/Soft / Soft / Heavy

1988 / Soft / Heavy / Soft

1987 / Good / Good / Good/Good to Soft

1986 / Good to Soft / Good / Good

1985 / Good / Good / Good

1984 / Good / Good / Good

1983 / Good to Soft / Good to Soft / Good to Soft

1982 / Heavy / Heavy / Heavy

1981 / Heavy / Soft / Soft




CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2004

Martin Pipe's entries




The Queen Mother Champion Chase
2004 - 3
2003 - 4
2002 - 4
2001 - 1
2000 - 2
1999 - 3
1998 - 2
1997 - 1
1996 - 1
1995 - 1
1994 - 1

The Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup
2004 - 5
2003 - 9
2002 - 6
2001 - 4
2000 - 4
1999 - 9
1998 - 4
1997 - 2
1996 - 6
1995 - 2
1994 -11

Martin Pipe's 30 winners at the Cheltenham Festival

2003
Royal Predica - Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase
Liberman - Weatherbys Champion Bumper

2002
Ilnamar-Coral Eurobet Cup
Blowing Wind-Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup
Royal Auclair-Cathcart Challenge Cup

2000
Dark Stranger-Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup

1999
Hors La Loi III - Citroen Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Majadou - Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup

1998
Champleve - Guinness Arkle Chase
Unsinkable Boxer - Unicoin Homes Gold Card Final (Handicap Hurdle)
Cyfor Malta - Catchcart Challenge Cup Chase
Blowing Wind - Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle

1997
Or Royal - Guinness Arkle Challenge Trophy
Make A Stand - Smurfit Champion Hurdle
Big Strand - Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle
Terao - Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup Handicap Chase

1996
Cyborgo - Bonusprint Stayers' Hurdle
Challenger Du Luc - Cathcart Challenge Cup Chase

1995
Kissair - Daily Express Triumph Hurdle

1994
Balasani - Bonusprint Stayers' Hurdle

1993
Granville Again - Smurfit Champion Hurdle
Olympian - Coral Cup

1992
Miinnehoma - Sun Alliance Chase

1991
Chatam - Cathcart Chase
Omerta - Kim Muir Handicap Chase
Rolling Ball - Sun Alliance Chase

1990
Regal Ambition - Sun Alliance Novices' Hurdle

1989
Sayfar's Lad - Sun Alliance Novices' Hurdle
Sondrio - Trafalgar House Supreme Novices' Hurdle

1981
Baron Blakeney - Daily Express Triumph Hurdle

Martin Pipe is the most successful current trainer at the Cheltenham Festival, with Nicky Henderson next on 25 victories and Edward O'Grady in third place on 17 successes.



THE TOTE CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP

Class A, Grade One, Total Prize Fund £350,000 Cheltenham, Thursday, March 18, 2004, 3m 2.5f.

For 5yo & upwards. Weights: 5yo 11st; 6yo & upwards 11st 10lb. Allowances: mares 7lb. Entries closed January 7, entries released January 12 (32 entries), forfeit stage February 24, £17,500 supplementary entry stage March 13, five-day confirmations March 13, overnight declaration stage, 10.15am March 17. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys may not include some overseas racing and are correct up to and including the racing of Friday, January 9, 2004.

Form Horse Age Owner Trainer
316U3/-6 ALEXANDER BANQUET (IRE) 11 Miriam O'Callaghan Willie Mullins IRE
4PU3/-13 ARCTIC JACK (FR) 8 Trevor Hemmings Sue Smith
1F-3113 BEEF OR SALMON (IRE) 8 Joe Craig Michael Hourigan IRE
61150-2 BEHRAJAN (IRE) 9 The Behrajan Partnership Henry Daly
1/111-21 BEST MATE (IRE) 9 Jim Lewis Henrietta Knight
220P-4P CHIVES (IRE) 9 Trevor Hemmings Henrietta Knight
3163-56 COMMANCHE COURT (IRE) 11 Dermot Desmond Ted Walsh IRE
P/14U-56 CYFOR MALTA (FR) 11 David Johnson Martin Pipe
3P1-153 FIRST GOLD (FR) 11 J P McManus Francois Doumen FR
1/44P0-5 FLORIDA PEARL (IRE) 12 Violet O'Leary Willie Mullins IRE
F022-14 FONDMORT (FR) 8 Bill Brown Nicky Henderson
2/3333-0 HARBOUR PILOT (IRE) 9 Kays Syndicate Noel Meade IRE
1F121-P IRISH HUSSAR (IRE) 8 Major Christopher Hanbury Nicky Henderson
U2-211P JAIR DU COCHET (FR) 7 Miriam Montauban Guillaume Macaire FR
311-500 JENNIFERJO (IRE) 7 J B Fahy Pat Fahy IRE
1115-U1 KEEN LEADER (IRE) 8 Adair Catherwood Jonjo O'Neill
11-11 KINGSCLIFF (IRE) 7 Arnold Sendell Robert Alner
1111-46 LA LANDIERE (FR) 9 Carol Skan Richard Phillips
5/1P32-P MACS GILDORAN 10 Margaret McManus Willie Mullins IRE
411-23F RINCE RI (IRE) 11 Frank Moriarty Ted Walsh IRE
45-1U13 RULE SUPREME (IRE) 8 John Lynch Willie Mullins IRE
12-U11P SHARDAM (IRE) 7 Howard Parker Nigel Twiston-Davies
111P/5P- SHOOTING LIGHT (IRE) 11 John Brown & M Blackburn Martin Pipe
1/11-F12 SIR REMBRANDT (IRE) 8 A Hordle Robert Alner
3/2424/-5 SLEEPING NIGHT (FR) 8 David & F A Jackson Paul Nicholls
111111 THEREALBANDIT (IRE) 7 David Johnson Martin Pipe
221133///- TOTO TOSCATO (FR) 10 Lady Clarke Martin Pipe
132-42F TRUCKERS TAVERN (IRE) 9 Mrs M B Scholey Ferdy Murphy
144-F3F VALLEY HENRY (IRE) 9 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson
P46P40 VENN OTTERY 9 Oliver Carter Paul Nicholls
14P52/F- WHAT'S UP BOYS (IRE) 10 Mrs J F Deithrick Philip Hobbs
P/1P20U- YOU'RE AGOODUN 12 Jeff Lammiman Martin Pipe

32 entries
9 Irish-trained
2 French-trained

BREAKDOWN OF ENTRIES BY TRAINER WITH PAST SUCCESSES IN THE TOTE CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP

5 Entries
Martin Pipe

4 Entries
Willie Mullins IRE

2 Entries
Robert Alner (1998 COOL DAWN)
Nicky Henderson
Henrietta Knight (2002, 2003 BEST MATE)
Paul Nicholls (1999 SEE MORE BUSINESS)
Ted Walsh IRE

1 Entry
Henry Daly
Francois Doumen FR (1994 THE FELLOW)
Pat Fahy IRE
Philip Hobbs
Michael Hourigan IRE
Howard Johnson
Guillaume Macaire FR
Noel Meade IRE
Ferdy Murphy
Jonjo O'Neill
Richard Phillips
Sue Smith
Nigel Twiston-Davies

THE TOTE CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP
Analysis

The Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup will be awaited with more anticipation than ever in 2004 as Best Mate attempts to enter the record books and become the first triple winner of chasing's Blue Riband since the great Arkle.


Henrietta Knight's charge, facile winner of his latest start in the Ericsson Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, heads the 32 entries for the latest renewal of the £350,000 contest, which takes places over an extended three miles, two furlongs on Thursday, March 18. There are nine challengers trained in Ireland and two from France to add international interest.


Best Mate is one of two entries for Henrietta Knight, who could also run Chives, seventh in last season's Tote Cheltenham Gold.


The Tote C


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