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Tuesday, December 23, 2008



MISTER McGOLDRICK AMONG FIELD OF EIGHT FOR SKYBET.COM ROWLAND MEYRICK HANDICAP CHASE AT WETHERBY




A total of eight horses have been declared for the £65,000 Grade Three skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase (1.45pm), highlight of the first day of Wetherby’s two-day Sky Bet Christmas Meeting on Boxing Day, Friday, December 26.


Owner Richard Longley is optimistic that course specialist Mister McGoldrick can gain a ninth Wetherby victory in the three mile, one furlong contest. The Sue Smith-trained 11-year-old has already enjoyed success in two renewals of the skybet.com Castleford Handicap Chase at the Sky Bet Christmas Meeting while his latest triumph at the course came in the Listed bet365.com Handicap Chase in November, 2007.


After winning the Grade Three Racing Post Plate at last season’s Cheltenham Festival, Mister McGoldrick produced another game display on his latest appearance, coming home third to Monet’s Garden and Snoopy Loopy in the Grade Two Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon on December 11.


Longley commented: “I thought his run at Huntingdon was amazing and, if Snoopy Loopy had not set such a strong pace, I thought we might have been in the winner’s enclosure. It was still a brilliant run and he’s come out of the race in great form.


“He’s not a difficult horse to get fit and he obviously loves it round Wetherby, winning eight of his 10 starts there. He has been successful in the skybet.com Castleford Handicap Chase twice before but he’s too highly rated for that race this year and we feel that he now needs further than two miles.


“I’m not worried about the step up in trip. Harvey Smith has always said that he would get three miles and he ran a cracker to finish fifth in a valuable three-mile hurdle at Haydock last season.


“With Tidal Bay in the line-up, he will be carrying a lot less weight (11st 2lb) than he usually has to lumber around over fences. With Andrew Kinirons, who rides Mister McGoldrick in some of his work, taking another seven pounds off, I think he can be very competitive over three miles. If all the pieces of the jigsaw fit together we might get a big race out of him.”


The skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase looks set to be another superb renewal, with dual Grade One scorer Tidal Bay heading the weights on 11st 12lb. The Howard Johnson-trained seven-year-old enjoyed a phenomenal first campaign over fences last season, gaining victories at the highest level in the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival and the Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree.


Dual Grade Two bet365 Charlie Hall Chase victor Ollie Magern will return to Wetherby to bid for revenge over the winner of that race this year, State Of Play, while the Donald McCain-trained Cloudy Lane will be looking for another big handicap chase success following victories at Haydock, Ayr and Doncaster last season.


The field is completed by the consistent Nozic from the stable of champion trainer Paul Nicholls, recent Doncaster handicap chase runner-up Standin Obligation and Borora, who was second to Mister McGoldrick in the Listed bet365.com Handicap Chase at Wetherby last season.


A fantastic six-race card on the first day of the Sky Bet Christmas Meeting also includes the £10,000 Merry Christmas From Sky Bet Handicap Hurdle (2.15pm), for which 13 have been declared, and the £12,000 skysports.com/Super6 Handicap Chase (2.50pm), which has attracted a competitive field of 11.


The action on the second day of the Sky Bet Christmas Meeting, Saturday, December 27, features the £30,000 skybet.com Castleford Handicap Chase (3.00pm), which has attracted a top-quality entry of 10, including Grade Two winners Moon Over Miami and Stan as well as the Malcolm Jefferson-trained Calatagan, who is set to bid for a third consecutive victory in the two-mile contest.


GROUND

The going at Wetherby remains soft, good to soft in places.


Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course, Jonjo Sanderson, commented: “We are delighted with the quality of the final field for this year’s skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase, with the weights headed by dual Grade One winner Tidal Bay and Wetherby favourites Ollie Magern, State Of Play and Mister McGoldrick also lining up.


“Everyone at Wetherby is looking forward to two days of wonderful racing action at the Sky Bet Christmas Meeting.”

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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