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Friday, December 19, 2008



OBLIGATION LOOKING TO LEAVE HIS RIVALS STANDING IN THE SKYBET.COM ROWLAND MEYRICK HANDICAP CHASE AT WETHERBY




Trainer Peter Monteith is optimistic that Standin Obligation can gain the biggest success of his career in the £65,000 Grade Three skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase (1.45pm), run over three miles and a furlong on the first day of the Yorkshire course’s two-day Sky Bet Christmas Meeting, Boxing Day, Friday, December 26.


The consistent David Johnson-owned nine-year-old, a prolific scorer in novice events for former handlers Martin and David Pipe, was rewarded for a string of sound efforts with an impressive victory under top-weight in a competitive handicap chase at Kelso in April.


On his first appearance for nearly eights months in a valuable handicap chase at Doncaster on December 13, Standin Obligation was a pleasing four-length second to the unexposed Merigo, to whom he was conceding nearly a stone.


Midlothian-based Monteith revealed today: “I am going to give Standin Obligation an entry in the skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase and he’s an intended runner in the race at the moment.


“I was pleased with his run at Doncaster and he is entitled to come on for his first appearance of the season. I like to get a bit of time between his appearances but he has come out of the race in good form and so he will hopefully be taking his chance at Wetherby.

“He ran decent races throughout last season, with the only exception being when he was pulled up at Perth on his final start of the campaign. The ground might have been a bit quicker than ideal there and some people believe that he might prefer going left-handed, but I was a bit mystified by that run because he is normally so consistent.


“He has of a mark of 141 at the moment, which is his highest rating as a chaser, but he ran well at Doncaster of the same mark and that was his first run for a while. He won a novice chase at Wetherby for David Pipe in June, 2006, so we will have no excuses regarding the course as well. A bit of cut in the ground would also be right up his street.


“Obviously, it depends where Timmy Murphy is riding on Boxing Day, but Ryan Mania was on board at Doncaster and I personally would prefer use his claim to give us bit more of an advantage. I’m hopeful that Standin Obligation will run a decent race, whoever takes the ride.”

The skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase has a rich tradition of attracting some of the top staying chasers, previous winners include Gunner Welburn in 2003, who finished fourth in the Grand National the same year, and Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Truckers Tavern in 2004.


This year’s renewal looks set to be another top-class affair, with Grade Two bet365 Charlie Hall Chase winners State Of Play and Ollie Magern set to take their chances, with Grade One Arkle Trophy winner Tidal Bay also being considered for the race.


Sponsored by Sky Bet for the seventh year, the Sky Bet Christmas Meeting offers two days of superb racing action. Besides the Grade Three skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase, the six-race card on Boxing Day, Friday December 26, also includes the £10,000 Merry Christmas From Sky Bet Handicap Hurdle (2.15pm) and the £12,000 skysports.com/super6 Handicap Chase (2.50pm).


The second day of the Sky Bet Christmas Meeting hosts the prestigious £30,000 skybet.com Castleford Handicap Chase (3.00pm), a two-mile contest which has stayed in Yorkshire for the past two seasons courtesy of the Malcolm Jefferson-trained Calatagan, who is set to bid for a hat-trick this year.


The £12,000 skyvegas.com Novices’ Chase (2.30pm) and the £10,000 skypoker.com Introductory Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (1.55pm) also feature on the six-race card, with all three contests being shown live on Channel 4.


GROUND

The going at Wetherby is currently Soft, Good to Soft in places.


Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course, Jonjo Sanderson, commented: "Like most of the country, we had 20 millimetres of rain last Saturday and it has left the ground very much on the soft side, although we are fortunate in that we have some fresh ground with which to run our hurdles races on.

“The weather outlook remains reasonably positive for the next seven days, with temperatures set to range from 4°C to 10°C and no appreciable rain forecast for the next week.

“This might dry out the ground marginally, however, I wouldn’t expect underfoot conditions to change a great deal prior to racing on Boxing Day."

Advance bookings are selling well and racegoers are advised to book early to avoid disappointment, particularly for the Premier Enclosure, which is normally a sell-out. Tickets can be purchased at www.wetherbyracing.co.uk or by phoning 01937 582 035.
Admission Prices (December 26 & 27): Premier Enclosure £27, Paddock Enclosure £16, Pick of the Paddock £21 (includes admission to the Paddock Enclosure, £4 Refreshment Voucher, £2 Tote Betting Voucher and Racecard), Pick of the Premier £38 (includes admission to the Premier Enclosure, 2 x £4 Refreshment Voucher, 2 x £2 Tote Betting Voucher and Racecard).


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