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Tuesday, January 26, 2010



WEBBER AIMING TO MAKE TIME FOR RUPERT IN BETFAIR CLEEVE HURDLE AT CHELTENHAM




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

Trainer Paul Webber is hoping that Time For Rupert can book his place in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle with a good run in the £50,000 Grade Two Betfair Cleeve Hurdle (3.40pm) over three miles at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day, Saturday, January 30.

The six-year-old is set to return to Prestbury Park after posting a rallying victory over the same distance in the Boylepoker.com Handicap Hurdle at the Boylesports International on December 11, when he gamely repelled the challenges of Made In Japan and fellow Betfair Cleeve Hurdle contender Kayf Aramis.

In a promising first season over hurdles (2008/09), Time For Rupert scored in novice contests at Catterick and Huntingdon before gamely beating Inchidaly Rock in a Listed handicap hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.

Webber revealed today: “The intention is to run Time for Rupert in the Betfair Cleeve Hurdle. He is extremely well and we are looking forward to getting him back to Cheltenham. We were thrilled with his win there in December but we decided not to risk him on the ground there on New Year’s Day.



“The form of his Cheltenham victory has been franked by Wolf Moon and Made In Japan running well since and he stayed the three miles really well. I don’t think that he will have any problem with the forecast soft ground and I am just hoping that the frost doesn’t get into the ground again.

“We will have to see how he run on Saturday but the Ladbrokes World Hurdle is on the horizon for him - he can’t really go for the Pertemps Final off his current mark of 151 and it would be a great honour to finish second to Big Buck’s!”

A total of 15 entries for the Betfair Cleeve Hurdle includes several of the other leading contenders for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle headed by Karabak, who was second to Mikael D’Haguenet at The Festival in 2009 and chased home Big Buck’s in the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle at Newbury on December 29. His trainer Alan King may also be represented by the 2008 Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle winner Katchit.


The Willie Amos-trained Lie Forrit is also on course to return to Cheltenham, having taken the Listed Jardine Lloyd Thompson Handicap Hurdle at The Open in November, while Cheltenham specialist Fair Along, third behind Big Buck’s in this race 12 months ago, may bid for a fifth course success.

Other notable contenders include the Howard Johnson-trained Tidal Bay, who took the Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase at the 2008 Festival and won a Grade Two hurdle on his last start over the smaller obstacles in April, 2007. A pair of entries from the stable of David Pipe consists of Listed scorer Mr Thriller and one of the toughest horses in training, Lough Derg.

Festival Trials Day, the last day’s racing at Cheltenham prior to The Festival, also features the £100,000 Grade Two Argento Chase (2.35pm), which could see the 2008 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup victor Denman make his final appearance prior to The Festival.

Plenty of novice hurdlers will get the chance to advertise their Festival credentials in the £27,000 Grade Two Betfair Finesse Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (12.55pm) and the £27,000 Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (3.10pm). A seven-race card also includes the £22,500 Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase (1.30pm) and the £50,000 Grade Three Betfair Trophy Chase (2.05pm).

The action concludes with the £18,000 Stellar Football Handicap Hurdle (4.20pm, 31 entries) and the Brightwells Cheltenham January Sale will take place after racing, commencing at 5.30pm in The Centaur.


GROUND

The going at Cheltenham is now SOFT (from soft, heavy in places).


Simon Claisse, Cheltenham’s Director of Racing, reported today: “As forecast, today has been dry and the going is now soft all over.


“The forecast is for between four and six millimetres of rain between tomorrow and Friday, with cooler temperatures arriving at the end of the week.


“We will make a final decision tomorrow, but the provisional plan at this stage is to put down frost covers on Thursday as a precautionary measure.”



STEWART FAMILY TO SUPPORT THE FESTIVAL’S OPENING RACE AS SPINAL RESEARCH SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE IS ANNOUNCED




Cheltenham Racecourse announced today that the opening race of The Festival, on Tuesday, March 16, will this year be called the Spinal Research Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. The race is being sponsored by the Stewart family, headed by Andy Stewart, the well-known businessman and owner.


One of Andy’s sons, Paul, suffered a severe spinal injury in a snowboarding accident in December, 2008. He was paralysed from the waist down and initially told by doctors that he would never walk again. However, pioneering treatment in the UK and in Miami has seen Paul progress to the stage where he can now get around with only a walking stick.


Spinal Research is the UK’s leading charity funding medical research around the world to develop reliable treatments for paralysis caused by a broken back or neck. Every year more than 800 people in the UK and Ireland are paralysed following an injury to their spinal cord. Spinal Research raises money to fund research into clinical treatments as well as vital basic scientific research. Thanks to this work, the treatment of paralysis is improving all the time and some therapies can now, in some cases, help restore movement and feeling, in the process transforming the lives of paralysed people.


Commenting on his support of this historic race, Andy Stewart said: “For obvious reasons this is a cause close to my heart, and a high-profile sponsorship seemed a great opportunity to increase awareness of Spinal Research and highlight the great work that it does for victims of spinal injuries.

“We are holding a Racing Legends Dinner at the Jumeirah Carlton Hotel in London on Tuesday, April 6, which I’m hoping will add a significant sum to the charity’s coffers. Many people involved in racing have experienced spinal accidents and we are committed to continue the quest to help, understand and to seek a cure.”

Peter McNeile, Cheltenham’s Director of Sponsorship, added: “It is a typically generous gesture by Andy Stewart and his family to support the Spinal Research Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and give such a boost to an extremely deserving charity.

“The Stewart family has had some great days at The Festival as owners with the likes of Big Buck’s and Celestial Halo and it will be terrific to see Paul Stewart walking into the Cheltenham parade ring as one of the sponsors this year.”

Last season’s Spinal Research Supreme Novices’ Hurdle was won by Go Native, who beat Medermit by a neck. Both horses are now leading fancies for this season’s Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle.

The Festival 2010 takes place from Tuesday to Friday, March 16 to 19.


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