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Friday, January 29, 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

This year’s £100,000 Grade Two Argento Chase (2.35pm) looks set to be another cracking renewal after seven horses were declared for the highlight of Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham tomorrow, Saturday, January 30.

The Colin Tizzard-trained Joe Lively took the spoils last year with a rallying victory over Halcon Genelardais and his handler is hoping that the 11-year-old will produce another game performance as he bids to become the first horse to win the extended three mile, one furlong, contest in consecutive years.

Tizzard said: “I am hoping that Joe Lively will run a better race in the Argento Chase because he hasn’t shown what he is capable of so far this season. He ran quite respectably in the Hennessy Gold Cup but he was very disappointing at Cheltenham last time out.

“All of our horses were running badly at the time, so I think that you can excuse him that run, but they seem to have come through it now. He won this race last year and, although he is not getting any younger, I am expecting a decent run from him.

“We left him out of the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup this year but he will be entered in races like the William Hill Trophy Chase. He’s rated 149 now and we will also give him an entry in the Grand National - as long as he doesn’t do anything stupid tomorrow and blow his mark!”

Dual Grade Two scorer Madison Du Berlais will also return to Cheltenham, having taken eighth behind Kauto Star in last year’s totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. The David Pipe-trained nine-year-old also finished behind the outstanding chaser in Grade One company on both his appearances so far this season, taking third in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November and coming home a remote second in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

The Mark Bradstock-trained Carruthers could cement his place in the line-up for the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup with a good performance tomorrow. After taking fourth in the RSA Chase at last season’s Festival, the front-running seven-year-old was fifth on his seasonal return in a Listed handicap chase at Wincanton in November prior to taking a Newbury Graduation Chase in emphatic style at the end of December.

Taranis has been off the course for over two years but the Paul Nicholls-trained nine-year-old boasts some top-class form, having taken the Ryanair Chase at The Festival in 2007 and triumphed in the Grade One Down Royal Champion Chase later the same year. The champion trainer will also run exciting novice Inchidaly Rock, who is unbeaten in two starts over fences, including an easy victory in the Ryman The Stationer Novices' Chase at Cheltenham in December. Nigel Twiston-Davies will also be doubly represented too, courtesy of Knowhere, who took this race in 2008, and Ollie Magern, a Grade One winner at Sandown as a novice.

Several contenders for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle are among a field of 13 declared for the £50,000 Betfair Cleeve Hurdle (3.40pm), headed by the progressive Lie Forrit, whose four wins over hurdles for trainer Willie Amos include a storming success in the Listed Jardine Lloyd Thompson Handicap Hurdle at The Open in November.

The Paul Webber-trained Time For Rupert will also be bidding to make the step up to Graded company, having landed the Boylepoker.com Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in December, while the 2008 Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle victor Katchit, from the stable of Alan King, will return to Cheltenham as he races over three miles for the first time in his career.

Lough Derg, successful in the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December, 2007, has been declared by David Pipe alongside Listed scorer Mr Thriller, while Cheltenham specialist Fair Along will be seeking a fifth victory at his favourite course for trainer Philip Hobbs.

Other notable contenders include the Howard Johnson-trained Tidal Bay, victorious in the 2008 Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase, who will make his first appearance over hurdles since scoring in a Grade Two contest at Aintree in April, 2007. Paul Nicholls and the Stewart Family, who teamed up to win this race 12 months ago with Big Buck’s, will be represented by Tatenen, who is a Grade Two winner over fences at Cheltenham.

A field of eight goes to post in the opening £27,000 Grade Two Betfair Finesse Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (12.55pm), including the Paul Nicholls-trained Pistolet Noir, a Grade Two winner at The Open in November for former handler Nick Williams, while Francois Doumen sends over Good Lord from France in an intriguing contest that could provide pointers to the JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival.

Doumen is also represented in the second race of the afternoon, the £22,500 Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase (1.30pm, 12 declarations) over two miles and five furlongs, where he has declared the J P McManus-owned Doctor Pat.

Further competitive handicap action follows in the £50,000 Grade Three Betfair Trophy Handicap Chase (2.05pm) over two miles and five furlongs. The 13 declarations include Idole First, successful over the course and distance in the Freddie Williams Festival Plate at The Festival in 2007.

Fiulin, a Listed winner on the Flat, was sold for 280,000 guineas at Tattersalls in October and makes his debut over hurdles for Evan Williams in the £27,000 Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (3.10pm). Also among the seven declarations for the extended two and a half mile contest are the Nicky Henderson-trained General Miller, who is unbeaten in three starts including at Cheltenham in December, Restless Harry, who was runner-up in the Grade One Challow Hurdle at Newbury and Paul Nicholls’ Royal Charm, who won his latest two starts over hurdles at Exeter.

Concluding Festival Trials Day is the £18,000 Stellar Football Handicap Hurdle (4.20pm) over two miles and a furlong which has attracted 16 declarations.

After racing, the Brightwells Cheltenham January Sale will take place, commencing at 5.30pm in The Centaur.


The going at Cheltenham is now SOFT. A precautionary inspection will be held at 8.00am tomorrow morning.

Simon Claisse, Cheltenham’s Clerk of the Course, reported today: “We had six millimetres of rain overnight and the going is now soft.

“Some more showers are expected later today and into tomorrow but these should not amount to much.

“Tonight the temperature is forecast to dip to minus four degrees Celsius and is then predicted to rise to plus three degrees Celsius tomorrow. The uncertainty we face is that we don’t know when the temperature will increase tomorrow and that is why we have decided to call a precautionary inspection at 8.00am tomorrow.

“The frost covers have been down since yesterday.”

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