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Friday, December 8, 2008


Meeting - Boylesports International, Cheltenham Racecourse
Dates - Friday, December 12 & Saturday, December 13
First race - 12.10pm Friday & 12.15pm Saturday
Tickets available from www.cheltenham.co.uk or by calling 08445 793 003.

ISDN facilities are available for radio interviews if required

County Kildare trainer Sabrina Harty is keeping one eye on the weather as she prepares Won In The Dark for a tilt at the £200,000 Grade Two Boylesports.com International (3.05pm), run over two miles and a furlong at Cheltenham on Saturday, December 13. The prestigious contest (race 19 in the Order Of Merit) has attracted 11 entries today.

The four-year-old Won In The Dark, third in last season’s Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival, could face esteemed opposition, with three of the first four horses in the betting for the 2009 Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle all entered. These are Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle victor Katchit, current Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle favourite Binocular and last season’s Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle hero Crack Away Jack.

Harty revealed today: “The Boylesports.com International is an option for Won In The Dark and if it was good ground I would say he would go there. We are trying to get as good ground as we can for him, so we entered him and we will see what happens during the week. If it comes up more good than soft we will let him take his chance. He really needs nice ground.

“He was lucky enough to have good ground almost every time he ran last season, even at Christmas time, but it has been hard to come by this season. The ground has been soft here in Ireland for a good while.”

Won In The Dark was a top-class juvenile hurdler last season. The Montjeu gelding won the Grade One Durkan New Homes Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown last Christmas as well as the Grade One Champion 4-Y-O Hurdle at Punchestown in April. He opened this season’s account in the Grade One Maplewood Developments Hurdle at Punchestown on November 16. Won In The Dark was not disgraced to finish fourth behind Hardy Eustace on unsuitably heavy going.

Harty continued: “Won In The Dark is a smart little horse; he is genuine and loves to gallop away. He needs the good ground because it is hard enough as a four-year-old against these nice horses, especially if the ground is against him.

“He is in great form and ran well here on really heavy ground in November. That was his first attempt against the older horses and he was only five lengths off Jered in the end. Davy (Russell) was not hard on him and we are happy with him.”

The Boylesports.com International, the third richest hurdle race in Britain and Ireland, is a premier trial for the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at The Festival in March. There is a £200,000 bonus payment offered by Boylesports for any horse winning both the Boylesports.com International and the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle in the same season. If won, this will be split £180,000 for the owner, £10,000 for the trainer and £10,000 for the successful yard's stable staff. Rooster Booster won both contests in the 2002/03 season, as did Salmon Spray (1965/66 season) and Comedy Of Errors (1974/75 season).

Also among the entries for the Boylesports.com International are JCB Triumph Hurdle victor Celestial Halo, Grade Two Ascot Hurdle winner Chomba Womba, Serabad, Khyber Kim, River Liane and Harchibald, who won the equivalent of the Boylesports.com International in 2005.

The Charles Byrnes-trained Solwhit has also been entered. The four-year-old, winner of the Leopardstown November Handicap on the Flat last month, joined the Irish handler in the spring, having begun his career in France.

Solwhit has won three of his four starts over hurdles, most recently when a cosy three quarters of a length victor of a competitive two-mile handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse on November 29.

Byrnes said: “We will monitor the situation and make a decision closer to the day. As things stand, he has a lot to make up on a few of those horses. If a few come out we may let him take his chance.

“The handicapper put him up a stone for his last win, so he will find it impossible in handicaps now. He has no choice but to step up in grade. There is good prize money on offer in the Boylesports.com International so we will consider it.

“The ground does not make much difference to him. My horse is rated 141 while Katchit is rated 166. We have a long way to go before we get to that level but he is only a four-year-old and he is a nice horse. If we do run him in the Boylesports.com International, we will know what we are dealing with.”

Latest Boylesports prices: Binocular 7/4 (from 9/4), Chomba Womba 3/1, Katchit 7/2, Crack Away Jack 4/1, Harchibald 10/1, Celestial Halo 10/1, River Liane 14/1, Solwhit 16/1, Khyber Kim 25/1, Serabad 25/1, Won In The Dark 33/1

Leon Blanche, spokesman for Boylesports, said: “Binocular opened at 9/4 today but we have had to cut him to 7/4 following sustained support.

“Punters seem to be putting all their faith in the red-hot Nicky Henderson/Tony McCoy combination.”

Saturday, day two of the two-day Boylesports International (2.30pm), also features the £150,000 Grade Three Boylesports.com Gold Cup (2.30pm) over two miles, five furlongs (race 18 in the Order Of Merit).

Imperial Commander (11st 9lb)is among 19 acceptors at the five-day stage for the prestigious handicap. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge is the 2/1 market leader with Boylesports following his victory in the Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup over half a furlong shorter at The Open last month.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Oslot tops the weights on 11st 12lb, followed by stablemate Nozic (11st 10lb). Nicholls could also run Silverburn (11st), the 5/1 second-favourite. Finger Onthe Pulse (11st 7lb) is on course to represent trainer Tom Taaffe, while Ferdy Murphy is looking to saddle Three Mirrors (11st 2lb).

David Pipe was successful last year with Tamarinbleu and the Pond House trainer relies on Abragante (10st 2lb) this time. Other acceptors include the Nicky Henderson-trained My Petra (11st 4lb) and Scotsirish (11st 5lb) from the Willie Mullins stable.

Latest Boylesports prices: Imperial Commander 2/1, Silverburn 5/1, Finger On The Pulse 8/1, My Petra 10/1, Three Mirrors 10/1, Private Be 16/1, Scotsirish 16/1, Notable D'Estruval 16/1, Nozic 20/1, Oslot 20/1, Il Duce 25/1, Stan 25/1, Abragante 25/1, Yes Sir 33/1, Gold Medallist 33/1, The Hairy Lemon 33/1, Patman Du Charmil 40/1, Santas Son 40/1, Nation State 50/1

The feature contest on day one of the Boylesports International, Friday, December 12, is the £100,000 Listed Boylepoker.com Handicap Chase (1.55pm) staged over three miles, one and a half furlongs. The action on the seven-race card also includes the popular Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeplechase, which takes place at 1.20pm.

The going at Cheltenham ahead of the Boylesports International is good to soft, soft in places on the chase and hurdles courses. The cross-country course is soft, heavy in places.

Cheltenham’s Clerk of the Course Simon Claisse will deploy ground covers to guard against frost ahead of the Boylesports International, which commences on Friday.

He said: “We will cover all take-offs and landings, as well as all cross-overs. We will take a view tomorrow as to whether or not we fully cover the chase and hurdles courses. A lot depends on whether we get cloud cover on Thursday night and at the moment, there is a question mark hanging over whether that will materialise.”

For further information please contact Andy Clifton, Communications Manager at Cheltenham Racecourse, on 07876 330090, or visit the website at www.cheltenham.co.uk

Class 1, Grade 3, £150,000 Total Prize Fund. 2.30pm, Cheltenham, Saturday, December 13, 2008. For four-year-olds and upwards. Two miles and five furlongs (New Course). Penalties: after November 29, a winner of a chase 5lb - no penalty to increase a horse’s weight above 11st 2lb. Entries closed November 25, entries revealed November 26 (47 entries), weights revealed December 3. Five-day confirmation stage Monday, December 8 (19 remain). Final declaration stage 10.00am, Thursday, December 11. Maximum field size 17, plus 2 reserves. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including Sunday, December 7.

Form Horse Age/Wgt Owner Trainer
1) 121-164 OSLOT (FR) 6-11-12 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls
2) 22112/-U NOZIC (FR) 7-11-10 Sam Mcvie Paul Nicholls
3) 03/114-1 IMPERIAL COMMANDER (IRE) 7-11-09 Our Friends in the North Nigel Twiston-Davies
4) 2215-12 FINGER ONTHE PULSE (IRE) 7-11-07 Conor Clarkson Tom Taaffe IRE
5) 301-0U42 SCOTSIRISH (IRE) 7-11-05 Double R Stables LLP Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
6) 2PP2-P4 IL DUCE (IRE) 8-11-04 Liz Prowting Alan King
7) 22P0-11 MY PETRA 5-11-04 Mr & Mrs Richard Kelvin Hughes Nicky Henderson
8) 06P21-5 THREE MIRRORS 8-11-02 Sean Murphy Ferdy Murphy
9) 5114-2P STAN (NZ) 9-11-00 Paul Beck Venetia Williams
10) 6/2314-6 SILVERBURN (IRE) 7-11-00 Paul Green Paul Nicholls
11) P6321F0 YES SIR (IRE) 9-10-13 Yvonne Hill & Tom Healy Peter Bowen
12) 1/B0P-432 PRIVATE BE 9-10-09 David and Daphne Walsh Philip Hobbs
13) 1P0-105 SANTA'S SON (IRE) 8-10-08 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson
14) 14110-6 THE HAIRY LEMON 8-10-08 The Hairy Lemon Partnership Alan King
15) 34016-0 NOTABLE D'ESTRUVAL (FR) 7-10-05 P J McCarthy Arthur Moore IRE
16) 2620-PP PATMAN DU CHARMIL (FR) 6-10-05 Raymond Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies
17) 22105-5 GOLD MEDALLIST 8-10-03 Diana Whateley Philip Hobbs
18) 10P56-0 ABRAGANTE (IRE) 7-10-02 David Johnson David Pipe
19) 3651-04 NATION STATE 7-9-05 J D Brownrigg Gary Moore

19 five-day confirmations
3 Irish-trained

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