BIG GUNS CONSIDERING BOYLESPORTS.COM INTERNATIONAL
Connections of the very best hurdlers from both Britain and Ireland today revealed that they are seriously considering running their charges in the £200,000 Boylesports.com International, the highlight at Cheltenham on Saturday, December 9.
Philip Hobbs is looking forward to running the ante-post favourite for the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle, Detroit City, in the Boylesports.com International. The four-year-old grey landed last season's JCB Triumph Hurdle and made a winning seasonal reappearance under top weight in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at The Open on November 12.
The trainer declared today: "Detroit City is very much on course for the big race at Cheltenham on Saturday. I am more than happy with him - very pleased.
"I gather that Hardy Eustace is likely to come over from Ireland and take him on but I have no idea otherwise who he will be up against."
Eileen Hughes, wife of trainer Dessie Hughes, today reported that Hardy Eustace, winner of the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle in 2004, 2005 and third in 2006, could well head to Cheltenham on Saturday.
Mrs Hughes said: "We are hoping to send Hardy Eustace over to Cheltenham this weekend. The weather forecast looks reasonable but we don't want heavy ground. Winter soft ground is what we would like. The travelling doesn't bother him at all and he's in good form."
Another Irish trainer, John Queally, is also considering the Boylesports.com International for Al Eile, fourth behind Brave Inca in the 2006 Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle.
Queally commented: "The intention is to go to Fairyhouse on Wednesday but I will have another look at the Boylesports.com International. He's in good form and we think he's back to himself."
Tom Mullins, who has the star mare Asian Maze in his care, is also considering Saturday's contest, which takes place over two miles and a furlong.
Mullins revealed: "I am considering the Boylesports.com International at Cheltenham for Asian Maze. She has come out of her last race in great shape. To push Brave Inca into third was a great effort and I think we will improve a fair bit from that race."
The Boylesports.com International is the feature race of the mouth-watering Boylesports International, which comprises of two days of fantastic racing on Friday, December 8, and Saturday, December 9. All races will take place on Cheltenham's New Course, which has not been used since May.
The Boylesports.com International is the season's premier race for Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle candidates. Boylesports, Ireland's fastest growing independent bookmaker, has transformed the prize money and is also offering a huge £200,000 bonus (£180,000 to the owner, £10,000 to the trainer & £10,000 to the yard's stable staff) to any horse that can win the Boylesports.com International and the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on March 13.
Alan King has entered four-year-old Blazing Bailey, a recent Haydock winner, in both the £200,000 Boylesports.com International (2m 1f) and the £40,000 Mears Group Relkeel Hurdle (2m 5f 110yds) on Saturday.
He reported today: "Blazing Bailey is entered in the Boylesports.com International but is more likely to run in the Mears Group "Relkeel" Hurdle as he would prefer the longer trip.
"I just want to keep my options open which is why I have entered him in both. He is well and has come on quite a bit from Haydock - the Relkeel may not be the easier option with Black Jack Ketchum in that.
"D'Argent is returning in the Boylepoker.com Handicap Chase on Friday, while Tikram is in the Boylesports.com Gold Cup on Saturday. "
28 FOR BOYLESPORTS.COM GOLD CUP
A total of 28 horses are still engaged in Saturday's principal supporting race, the £150,000 Boylesports.com Gold Cup over two miles and five furlongs.
Paul Nicholls, the champion trainer, has the two top-weights Thisthatandtother (11st 12lb) and Cerium (11st 9lb) plus Taranis, who was going well when falling two out in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, all still engaged in the Boylesports.com Gold Cup.
He commented today: "The intention is to run Taranis and the other two are possibles - Thisthatandtother is highly likely to run and we will see how the week unfolds with Cerium who is a bit short of options.
"Taranis has had a lot of schooling since his fall and he is well. He wasn't beaten when coming down but if you don't jump, you don't win.
"I am planning to run My Will (£100,000 Boylepoker.com Handicap Chase) and Kicks For Free ( EBF/Boylesports.com National Hunt Novices Hurdle) at Cheltenham on Friday."
Paddy Power Gold Cup victor Exotic Dancer remains engaged along with the third, fourth, fifth and sixth - New Alco, Butler's Cabin, Graphic Approach and Tamarinbleu.
David Pipe, who has left five in the £150,000 Boylesports.com Gold Cup, said today: "Contraband will probably run, Tamarinbleu we are not sure about, Commercial Flyer or Bannow Strand will run, while Madison Du Berlais could run as well."
Commercial Flyer is the shortest-priced Pipe hope with the sponsors Boylesport at 8/1 joint second favourite behind 5/1 market leader Taranis but the trainer would not be drawn on the chances of his quintet.
He added: "Exotic Dancer (who beat's Pipe's Vodka Bleu in Cheltenham's £110,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup last month) will be hard to beat I would have thought."
Four Irish-trained entries remain, headed by the Paul Nolan-trained Kill Devil Hill and Ross River, who represents the Tony Martin stable and won cosily at Punchestown on November 18.
Nicky Henderson still has two contenders to choose from in Copsale Lad and Mariah Rollins while another interesting contenders is Reveillez, successful in the Jewson Novices' Handicap Chase at The Festival last season.
THE Boylesports.com GOLD CUP
Class 1, Grade Three, 2.35pm, Saturday, December 9, 2006, two miles and five furlongs, £150,000 total prize fund, for four-year-olds and upwards Penalties after November 25, a winner of a Class 3 chase 4lb; of a Class 1 or 2 chase 6lb. No penalty to increase a horse's weight above 11st 12lb. Entries closed Wednesday, November 22, 2006, entries released Thursday, November 23, (47 entries), weights revealed November 29. Five-day confirmation stage Monday, December 4. Form supplied by Weatherbys and correct up to and including the racing of Monday, November 27. May not include some overseas form.
Form Horse Age/Wgt Owner Trainer
214/3F-2 THISTHATANDTOTHER (IRE) 10-11-12 Graham Roach Paul Nicholls
1310P-1 CERIUM (FR) 5-11-09 Barry Fulton, Tony Hayward, Steve Fisher, Liam Brady Paul Nicholls
U111-1F TARANIS (FR) 5-11-04 A Yeoman & C Whittaker Paul Nicholls
03/53-2P CONTRABAND 8-11-04 David Johnson David Pipe
331F-21 EXOTIC DANCER (FR) 6-11-04 Sir Robert Ogden Jonjo O'Neill
11343-2 KILL DEVIL HILL (IRE) 6-11-03 Gigginstown House Stud Paul Nolan IRE
4/2510-6 TAMARINBLEU (FR) 6-11-02 The Arthur White Partnership David Pipe
32F12-1 ROSS RIVER 10-11-01 Seamus Ross Tony Martin IRE
02/14PP- CROZAN (FR) 6-11-01 Trevor Hemmings Nicky Henderson
6/2211-F REVEILLEZ 7-11-00 J P McManus James Fanshawe
115/1PP- COMMERCIAL FLYER (IRE) 7-10-13 David Johnson David Pipe
035435- MARIAH ROLLINS (IRE) 8-10-13 Paul Murphy Nicky Henderson
12123-P COPSALE LAD 9-10-12 Swallow Partnership Nicky Henderson
1/P-11F2 KNOWHERE (IRE) 8-10-11 Raymond Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies
U/2163-5 GRAPHIC APPROACH (IRE) 8-10-08 Mr & Mrs Peter Orton Charles Egerton
3410U-5 BILLYVODDAN (IRE) 7-10-08 Trevor Hemmings Henry Daly
1/2000-0 TIKRAM 9-10-08 Mike Charlton And Rodger Sargent Alan King
0001-52 HASTY PRINCE 8-10-05 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
6/121PP- BANNOW STRAND (IRE) 6-10-05 David Johnson David Pipe
11FP/24- BACKBEAT (IRE) 9-10-05 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson
623106-4 KALCA MOME (FR) 8-10-04 Daphne Du Pre Philip Hobbs
1226-23 NEW ALCO (FR) 5-10-04 D McGowan And S. Murphy Ferdy Murphy
11133-0 MADISON DU BERLAIS (FR) 5-10-02 Roger Stanley & Yvonne Reynolds II David Pipe
40-3211 PEARLY JACK 8-10-01 A. McCarthy Davy Fitzgerald IRE
31-65F1 DARBY WALL (IRE) 8-10-00 Matthew Cahill Enda Bolger IRE
4P2103-2 NO FULL (FR) 5-10-00 Patrick Delaney Jnr Paul Webber
6FF-006 FLYING SPIRIT (IRE) 7-9-09 Richard Green (Fine Paintings) Gary Moore
0-311144 BUTLER'S CABIN (FR) 6-9-08 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
28 entries remain at five-day confirmation stage
LATEST BOYLESPORTS PRICES FOR THE BOYLESPORTS.COM GOLD CUP: 5/1 Taranis, 8/1 Exotic Dancer, Commercial Flyer, Ross River, 10/1 Reveillez, 12/1 Copsale Lad, New Alco, 14/1 Thisthatandtother, Cerium, Kill Devil Hill, Graphic Approach, Hasty Prince, No Full, 16/1 Tamarinbleu, Knowhere, Pearly Jack, 20/1 Mariah Rollins, Billyvoddan, Bannow Strand, Madison Du Berlais, Darby Wall, 25/1 Contraband, Crozan, Tikram, Backbeat, Kalca Mome, Butler's Cabin, 33/1 Flying Spirit
Each-Way 1/4 the odds - 1, 2, 3, 4
STRONG SUPPORTING CARD
The fantastic seven-race card on Saturday, December 9, day two of the prestigious Boylesports International includes two superb Grade Two hurdle races, the Mears Group Relkeel Hurdle (1.30pm) and the Brit Insurance Novices' Hurdle (3.45pm).
The £40,000 Mears Group Relkeel Hurdle was won last year by the Henry Daly-trained Mighty Man, who went on to defeat Ladbrokes World Hurdle victor My way De Solzen in the Grade Two John Smith's And Flixton Conservative Club Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree.
This year's renewal of the two mile, five and a half furlong contest is set to be of the highest class, with the brilliant unbeaten Black Jack Ketchum, winner of the Grade Two Brit Insurance Novices' Hurdle at The Festival, heading the 11 entries.
Strong opposition to Jonjo O'Neill's charge could include the Philip Hobbs-trained Massini's Maguire, who landed the Gideon Kasler Novices' Hurdle over the course and distance at The Open, as well as the smart Alan King-trained Blazing Bailey, while 2005 Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle victor No Refuge and stablemate Mephisto could represent trainer Howard Johnson.
Massini's Maguire is also one of 14 entered in the £35,000 Brit Insurance Novices' Hurdle, which was won last year by Black Jack Ketchum, who, like the Hobbs-trained gelding, won the Gideon Kasler Novices' Hurdle prior to landing this prize.
Opposition could include the classy Howard Johnson-trained Tidal Bay, unbeaten in two hurdle starts, and the same trainer's Hockenhein, who has won his last two races.
Others include Keith Reveley's promising recent Haydock handicap hurdle winner Accordello, the Henrietta Knight-trained Cruising River, the David Pipe-trained duo Joacci and Christdalo, alongside Labelthou from the Emma Lavelle yard, and the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Imperial Commander.
The superb seven-race card also features the £20,000 Boylepoker.com Juvenile Novices' Hurdle (12.20pm) in which the Alan King-trained Katchit will bid to follow up his success in the Grade Two Ryman The Stationer Juvenile Novices' Hurdle at The Open, while the two mile, five furlong £20,000 Boylecasino.com Novices' Chase (2.05pm) could see Denman bid to preserve his unbeaten record over fences.
The £20,000 Jenny Mould Memorial Handicap Chase (12.55pm) over an extended two miles has attracted 19 entries, headed by 2005 victor Tysou, trained by Nicky Henderson.
The ground at Cheltenham is currently GOOD TO SOFT on all courses, with further rain forecast throughout this week.
Tickets will be available on the door for both days of the Boylesports International.
Admission prices for both days are Club/Tattersalls: £20 (16-24s: £15); Best Mate £8.
Parking is free on both days.
Gates open at 10.00am.
KEANE HOPING IT’S ALL IN THE STARS
All In The Stars heads to Cheltenham for the £100,000 Boylepoker.com Chase (1.20pm) on Friday, December 8, with trainer Paul Keane hoping his stable flag-bearer can better his runner-up finish of 12 months ago.
The progressive eight-year-old got to within three and a half lengths of the victorious Royal Auclair in the three mile, one and a half furlong contest in 2005, a run that followed a fifth placing in the 2005 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury.
All In The Stars announced his arrival as a serious staying chaser when easily landing the Country Gentleman’s Association Chase at Wincanton in February, before being pulled-up when sent off joint-favourite for his most recent start, the Scottish Grand National.
Illness has delayed All In The Stars’ return to action but Keane reports his charge in fine health ahead of the Boylepoker.com Chase.
The Dorset-based handler revealed this morning: “All In The Stars will run in the Boylepoker.com Chase. He missed the Hennessy because he had a bout of colic which set him back a few weeks, but he’s absolutely fine now and appears to be very well in himself.
“The one thing I’m a bit concerned about is that he’s running off a mark of 141, so he has to up his game to win off that mark. He had a very good season last year, with the exception of the blip in his final target, which was the Scottish Grand National.”
Keane believes All In The Stars has solid claims in the Boylepoker.com Chase and expects the gelding, who will be ridden by stable jockey Neil Mulholland, to be a fixture in top staying chases this term, though he will not be seen over the big Aintree fences.
He reported: “He ran a creditable race when second in the Boylepoker.com Chase last year and if the ground’s soft and they go a good gallop, then he would be an each-way bet.
“He will contest high-class staying chases this season and we may have a look at the Irish National - we’ll see how things pan out.
“He would never go for the Grand National because of his physical make up. He’s quite a low set horse and he lands a bit too much on the fore-hand over his fences, so I certainly wouldn’t be sending him over Becher’s Brook.”
The Boylepoker.com Chase, which this year carries doubled prize-money of £100,000 thanks to the generous sponsorship of Boylesports, Ireland’s fastest growing independent bookmaker, has 28 high-class chasers engaged at the five day stage.
The weights are topped by the Paul Nicholls-trained pair Star De Mohaison (12st), victorious in the Grade One Royal & SunAlliance Chase and successful at Sandown on Saturday, and My Will (11st 12lb), winner of the Grade Three Servo Computer Services Trophy over the course and distance at The Open.
The field could also include that pair’s stablemates Cornish Sett and Cornish Rebel, as well as the Francois Doumen-trained Innox, the in-form Gallant Approach, trained by Charles Egerton, John Smith’s Grand National fourth Nil Desperandum, the David Pipe-trained quartet of Joacci, Commercial Flyer, Bannow Strand and Puntal, and the Michael Hourigan-trained Church Island.
Keane, who has saddled 10 winners this season, is expecting a decent show from the lightly-raced Sula’s Legend in the two mile, one furlong EBF/Boylesports.com National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle (3.40pm).
The five–year-old is yet to win but came a promising second to the useful Here’s Johnny at Uttoxeter in October, before showing a dislike for heavy going when well-beaten at Carlisle on November 12.
Keane revealed: “Sula’s Legend hated the ground at Carlisle. I was surprised because I thought he’d handle it but Neil said he hated the ground, so we’ll draw a line through that. I think his other form will be good enough for him to get in the first four.
“If the likes of Kicks For Free turns up then I think we’ll all be playing supporting roles, but the form of his previous run is quite good. A couple of the top ones in the race would be a better class than him, so I’m hoping he has each-way claims.”
The contest, which concludes a high-quality seven-race card, has also attracted the Paul Nicholls-trained Kicks For Free and the Howard Johnson-trained Tidal Bay who are both unbeaten in two starts over hurdles.
The action on Friday kicks off with the £20,000 Cleanevent Novices’ Chase (12.10pm), run over three miles and one and a half furlongs. The David Pipe-trained Standin Obligation, unbeaten in three starts over fences and successful at the course at The Open meeting last month, is among 12 quality entries for the event.
Cross-country specialist Spot Thedifference showed that he retains plenty of ability at the age of 13 when taking the Sporting Index Chase at last month’s Open fixture for the third time - his fifth victory at Cheltenham in total. He features among 19 entries for the £23,000 Sporting Index Handicap Chase (1.55pm), run over a stamina-sapping three miles and seven furlongs.
The £20,000 CFR Group (Electrical Services) Handicap Hurdle (2.30pm) over two miles and a furlong looks tremendously competitive with 34 entries, including recent William Hill Handicap Hurdle victor Overstrand, while 45 runners have been entered for the three-mile £20,000 Pertemps Handicap Hurdle qualifier at 3.05pm.
Friday’s action also features the £15,000 boylecasino.com Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase (12.45pm), run over two miles and five furlongs, and concludes with the £15,000 EBF/boylesports.com ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle at 3.40pm over two miles and a furlong.
THE HORSERACE WRITERS & PHOTOGRAPHERS ASSOCIATION 40th DERBY AWARDS LUNCHEON - AWARD WINNERS
On Monday, December 4, 2006, the HWPA held the 40th Derby Awards at the London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel. Nearly 700 guests attended this famous lunch, which is described as the “Oscars” of racing, being considered the most important in the racing calendar as it is the votes of the expert journalists that secure these important accolades.
Supported by Blue Square, the UK’s leading interactive bookmaker, these annual Awards highlighted the achievements of trainers, jockeys, horses, owners, stable staff and many other aspects of the racing world.
The winners of each Award were as follows:
International Trainer of the Year Award: Brian Meehan
National Hunt Jockey of the Year Award: Tony McCoy
National Hunt Trainer of the Year Award: Paul Nicholls
Photographer of the Year Award: Edward Whitaker (Racing Post)
Flat Jockey of the Year Award: Ryan Moore
Flat Trainer or the Year Award: Marcus Tregoning
Owner of the Year Award: Victoria & Anthony Packenham
Broadcaster of the Year Award: Mike Cattermole (Channel 4/At The Races)
Journalist of the Year Award: Tim Richards (Freelance)
HWPA’s President, Geoff Lester presented the President’s Trophy for achievements that include actions beyond the requirements of their job, to Martin Pipe CBE, the 15 times champion racehorse trainer who has had such an outstanding career.
The George Ennor Trophy, for outstanding achievement in the sport of horseracing, this year went to Ginger McCain. McCain, who retired after the Grand National earlier this year, trained the legendary triple Grand National winner Red Rum and also won the great race in 2004 with Amberleigh House.
The Award that always meets with the industry’s approval is the Blue Square Stable Staff of the Year Award for The d’Avigdor Goldsmid Trophies, which went to two deserving recipients, Clifford Baker (who works for Paul Nicholls) and John Wilsoncroft (who works for Rae Guest). Both received a £500 cheque from the sponsors Blue Square, which was presented by their CEO, Martin Belsham.
The Blue Square Tipster Challenge was won by William Hill’s Ben Clarke who was presented with a cheque for £3,000 by Ben Warn, Blue Square’s Commercial Director.