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Monday, January 25, 2010


Meeting: Festival Trials Day
Date: Saturday, January 30, 2010
Gates Open: 11am
First Race: 12.55pm
Admission prices from £10 in advance & £15 on the day. Racegoers aged under 18 are admitted FREE of charge, while FREE parking is available.

Go to www.cheltenham.co.uk for further information

Outstanding chaser Denman could warm up for this year’s totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup in the £100,000 Grade Two Argento Chase (2.35pm). The Paul Nicholls-trained 10-year-old is among 11 entries for the three-mile, one and a half furlong, contest, the feature race of Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham on Saturday, January 30.

Denman boats an exceptional record at Cheltenham, with his four victories at the course including a terrific seven-length victory over Kauto Star in the 2008 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup as well as a galloping success in the RSA Chase at the previous year’s Festival.

A heart condition interrupted his preparation for chasing’s blue riband last year, but he still took second behind stable companion and long-time rival Kauto Star. The Presenting gelding has returned to his brilliant best this term, storming to victory under top-weight in the Hennessy Gold Cup on his seasonal return at Newbury in November.

Barbers Shop was fourth behind Denman on that occasion and the Nicky Henderson-trained chaser, who is owned by The Queen, may also bid to book his place at this year’s Festival with a good run in either the Argento Chase or the £50,000 Grade Three Betfair Trophy Chase (2.05pm), which has received an entry of 23.

The eight-year-old, who is on course for a tilt at the Ryanair Chase at The Festival, took seventh behind Kauto Star in last season’s totesport Cheltenham Gold and produced a career-best effort to be third behind the same horse in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

Sir Michael Oswald, racing manager for The Queen's Jump horses, commented: “We have given Barbers Shop two entries at Cheltenham but a lot will depend on the ground - he was taken out of Ascot on Saturday because it was very soft. I think that Nicky would like to get a run into him before the Ryanair Chase but the ground has to be right.

“He would have to give a lot of weight away if he lined up in the Betfair Handicap Chase but it is run over the same distance as the Ryanair Chase, whereas the trip of the Argento Chase might be a bit too far for him at the moment. It will be Nicky’s call which race he might line up in, but I think the ground will be the crucial factor.

“Two miles and five furlongs around Cheltenham is more or less three miles at most other courses and he seemed to get a bit tired in the Hennessy Gold Cup and the King George VI Chase. They went a very good gallop in both those races and he was taking on Denman and Kauto Star, which is like taking on a pair of steam engines.

“He has just turned eight and he seems to be getting better with each start - his third at Kempton was the best race he has ever run. We decided to keep away from the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup this season, and possibly let him take his chance in the race next season as a nine-year-old. I think that it is quite right not to take on Kauto Star and Denman again at this stage of his career and he looks a nice prospect for the Ryanair Chase at The Festival.”

Apart from Denman, champion trainer Paul Nicholls may also be represented by the 2007 Ryanair Chase victor Taranis and Inchidaly Rock, who easily landed the Ryman The Stationer Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham’s Boylesports International on December 12. A trio from the stable of Nigel Twiston-Davies consists of the 2008 winner Knowhere, Grade One scorer Ollie Magern and Beat The Boys, while David Pipe has entered Madison Du Berlais, who lowered the colours of Denman in Grade Two chases at Kempton and Aintree last season.

Carruthers was fourth in last year’s RSA Chase and the seven-year-old, who is owned by Lord Oaksey and is trained by his son-in-law Mark Bradstock, comfortably took a graduation chase at Newbury in December. The Nicky Richards-trained Money Trix went down by half a length in the Grade One Lexus Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting, while Cheltenham specialist Joe Lively recorded a game success in last year’s Argento Chase for trainer Colin Tizzard.

Saturday’s card, which is the last day’s racing prior to The Festival, also features the £50,000 Grade Two Betfair Cleeve Hurdle (3.40pm), a leading trial for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. The three-mile contest has attracted an entry of 15, headed by the Alan King-trained Karabak, who was runner-up to Mikael D’Haguenet at last year’s Festival and chased home Big Buck’s in the Grade Two Long Walk at Newbury on his latest appearance.

Roxburghshire-based handler Willie Amos may send down the progressive Lie Forrit, who landed the Listed Jardine Lloyd Thompson Handicap Hurdle at The Open before going on to victory in a Newbury Pertemps qualifier. The 2008 Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle winner Katchit could also bid to enhance his claims for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, while Time For Rupert, Mr Thriller and Fair Along may also try and further their Festival aspirations.

Another fascinating contender is the Howard Johnson-trained Tidal Bay. The 2008 Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase may make his first appearance over the smaller obstacles since taking a Grade Two hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting in 2007.

The £27,000 Grade Two Betfair Finesse Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (12.55pm) is set to provide some key pointers for the Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle and an entry of 13 includes leading Festival fancy Pistolet Noir, who is set to make his debut for Paul Nicholls having comprehensively won the Grade Two Prestbury Juvenile Novices' Hurdle at The Open for former handler Nick Williams.

Further Grade Two action is provided by the £27,000 Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (3.10pm), for which 18 horses have been entered headed by the Nicky Henderson-trained pair of General Miller and Master Of The Hall. The Paul Nicholls-trained Royal Charm has notched two impressive victories at Exeter, while Restless Harry was headed close home when coming second in the Grade One Challow Novices’ Hurdle for trainer Robin Dickin at Newbury on his latest start.

A seven-race card also features the £22,500 Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase (1.30pm), for which 28 horses have been entered, and concludes with the £18,000 Stellar Football Handicap Hurdle (4.20pm, 31 entries). After racing on Festival Trials Day, the Brightwells Cheltenham January Sale will take place, commencing at 5.30pm in The Centaur.


The going at Cheltenham is currently Soft, Heavy in Places.

The weather is forecast to be mostly dry throughout the week, turning colder towards the weekend.


Gone To Lunch is among 36 acceptors at the five-day stage for what promises to be a fantastic renewal of the £90,000 Sky Bet Chase (3.25pm) at Doncaster on Saturday, January 30.

The Jeremy Scott-trained 10-year-old will make the long trip from the edge of Exmoor to South Yorkshire for the historic three-mile handicap chase ahead of a return to Ayr for the Scottish Grand National in April, a race in which the classy stayer was a close runner-up last term.

Scott revealed today: “The principal plan is to go to Doncaster for the Sky Bet Chase and then we will be looking at a return to Ayr for the Scottish Grand National. We covered the Sky Bet Chase entry with one in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham, just in case of bad weather at Doncaster.”

Gone To Lunch, who carried 11st 12lb to finish second at Ayr in April, filled the runner-up berth in a Grade One novice chase at Punchestown just 10 days after that effort. Following a pipe opener at Ascot in October and a respectable fifth to Denman in the Hennessy at Newbury in November, the gelding was pulled up on heavy going in the Grade Three Welsh National at Chepstow on December 28.

Scott continued: “He seems in good order at present. The ground didn’t suit him at all in the Welsh National last time. We’ve run him on soft ground before and it didn’t bother him, but on Welsh National day it really was Chepstow soft - it was fairly desperate.

“In a way, if the ground is slightly softer it helps slow everybody else down and gives him a better chance. He would probably struggle for speed over three miles on quickish ground, so I wouldn’t mind if there’s a bit of give at Doncaster, which it looks as though there will be.

“We had a fair bit of snow here but we managed to keep the horses ticking over one way or another and we are fairly well on course for Saturday. I’d like it if he had less weight (allotted 11st 7lb) but he carried top-weight when he was second in the Scottish National last year and he seemed to cope with it. I think the bigger worry would be the trip. The further he goes, the better chance he has. Three miles is plenty short enough, but we’re happy with him.”

The David Pipe-trained Seven Is My Number is the 7/1 joint-favourite with Sky Bet following his smooth victory in the Grade Two Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on January 1.

Theatrical Moment, the other 7/1 joint-favourite, could be seeking a hat-trick of wins following a pair of successes at Leicester before Christmas for trainer Jonjo O’Neill, while the Victor Dartnall-trained Exmoor Ranger won a Newbury handicap chase in November.

County Durham trainer Howard Johnson could saddle last season’s Grade Two-winning novice Killyglen, while North Yorkshire-based Ferdy Murphy has entered William Hill Trophy runner-up New Alco.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has three acceptors. Kicks For Free and Tatenen were second and third, respectively, behind Seven Is My Number at Sandown in December. They could be joined by stable mate Nozic.

The Henrietta Knight-trained Calgary Bay is the current top-weight with 11st 12lb. The seven-year-old held the Henry Daly-trained Alderburn to win a handicap chase over the course and distance on December 12.

Others to note include Ouzbeck, From Dawn To Dusk, Trabolgan, Far More Serious, Battlecry, Nenuphar Collonges and Khachaturian. A maximum of 22 runners can line up on Saturday.

Latest prices from Sky Bet: 7/1 Seven Is My Number, Theatrical Moment, 8/1 Exmoor Ranger, 11/1 Far More Serious, 14/1 Calgary Bay, Tatenen, 16/1 Trabolgan, Private Be, Killyglen, Khachaturian, 18/1 Kicks For Free, 20/1 New Alco, Nenuphar Collonges, Alderburn, Battlecry, 22/1 Ouzbeck, Pretty Star, Pablo du Charmil, 25/1 Beat The Boys, Gone To Lunch, From Dawn To Dusk, Zitenka, 28/1 Regal Heights, Nozic, Mill Side, 33/1 Pocket Aces, Oscar Park, 40/1 Always Waining, Or Jaune, Briery Fox, Flake, Quattrocento, 50/1 Brooklyn Brownie, Ollie Magern, 66/1 Pak Jack, Description

Each-way terms: 1/4 odds first 4 places

This year’s tremendous seven-race card on Saturday, January 30, incorporates for the first time the £35,000 Grade Two Skypoker.com Lightning Novices’ Chase (1.45pm), run over an extended two miles and formerly staged at Ascot. This race has attracted a high-class entry of 17, including Mad Max, Somersby, Tataniano and Dave’s Dream.

The £30,000 Grade Two Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle over an extended three miles takes place at 2.50pm and has 15 entries, while at 4pm a field of talented mares will line up for the £50,000 Grade Two Skyvegas.com Mares’ Hurdle (17 entries) over an extended two miles.

Also on the card are the opening £8,000 Skyvegas.com Handicap Hurdle (1.10pm), which has 47 entries, the £25,000 Skybet.com Handicap Chase (2.20pm), with 24 entries, and the concluding £3,000 Skybet.com For All Your Football Betting Junior Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (4.30pm, 40 entries).

The two-day meeting also includes an entertaining six-race card on Friday, January 29, when the feature will be the £10,000 Skybet.com Handicap Chase (3.35pm), which has attracted 20 entries.

Latest going at Doncaster:
David Williams, Clerk of the Course at Doncaster, revealed today: “At present we are good to soft, soft in places.

“The soft is generally on the Bawtry Road side of the course and then a little bit of soft coming into the straight. The forecast is conflicting at the moment but it is looking as though it will probably be colder by the end of the week, so there is a possibility of overnight frost.”

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

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