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Sunday, March 11, 2001


Discussions have continued to take place this weekend with all interested parties about the re-scheduling of Cheltenham, with the aim of confirming as soon as possible the new dates for the three days. The Cheltenham Board met this morning and gave its backing to the process.

Progress has been made but there are still various issues to be determined - the main one being what will happen to Ireland’s Punchestown Festival which is scheduled from April 24 to 27.

Edward Gillespie, Cheltenham’s Managing Director, said today: “We would dearly like to re-schedule the three days in the week Punchestown currently has as this appears to be the preference of the trainers and racegoers.

“However, we are very aware that the decisions facing Punchestown are even more complex than those facing us, bearing in mind that racing in Ireland has yet to resume.

“Let me make this clear though - it is out of the question that Cheltenham will race at the same time as Punchestown. Therefore, we continue to examine all the logistical issues about racing during the week before (April 15 to 21).

“There is a great deal that has to be considered in this process of re-arranging the three days of Cheltenham and we want to make sure that everything is put in place before announcing the new dates.”


Dina Smith, whose biggest success was with Shiny Copper in the 1982 Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, had her biggest winner yesterday in the £40,000 Sunderlands Imperial Cup since returning to training after a break of 12 years a year ago.

Ibal, a 16/1 chance, won the competitive two-mile hurdle at Sandown by seven lengths under very promising amateur Ben Hitchcott.

The chasing prospect was well in and had his favoured soft ground, winning decisively from Valiramix. The five-year-old French-bred will now probably go for the re-arranged Cheltenham Festival in late April.

It was Dina Smith’s third winner since returning to training after a long break and she said today: “Ibal seems to go best when fresh and I was able to take him down to the beach to give him a change of routine.”

Based near Pulborough in Sussex with seven horses, the talented trainer saddled has room for more horses.

She was granted a dual-purpose training licence by the Jockey Club on Wednesday, March 8, 2000. She said then: “I am delighted to have a training licence again and look forward to the challenge.

“We are resuming training in a small way to start with but I am heartened with the support we have had from owners who had horses with us previously.

“Tony Hayward, who persuaded me to become a trainer in the first place, has been very supportive.”

Hayward jointly owns Ibal with Barry Fulton.

Dina Smith, who is assisted by her husband Al, initially started training in 1974 as a permit-holder and then expanded to full licence in 1979, being based both times at a yard near Fontwell Racecourse in Sussex.

She moved to near Lambourn in 1985 but a persistent virus and a desire to return to Sussex prompted the Smiths to sell up and stop training in 1988.

Now, with their children older, and, having looked after horses out of training, she felt the time was right to resume training. The horses normally use the nearby gallops of trainer Lady Herries.

Besides Shiny Copper, the good horses from her previous spell as a trainer included Dr Steve, Prince Blessed, Cut A Dash and Janus.

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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