NOLAN’S CUAN NA GRAI AMONG 40 ENTRIES FOR CHELTENHAM’S GREATWOOD HURDLE
Cuan Na Grai, trained by Paul Nolan, features among a cracking 40-strong entry for the £65,000 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (Grade Three), run over two miles and half a furlong at Cheltenham on Sunday, November 12, 2006, the final day of The Open.
The improving five-year-old novice, mightily impressive when landing a four-timer in the Guinness Galway Hurdle on August 3, would be bidding to become Nolan’s second winner of the valuable Cheltenham prize, following the victory of Accordion Etoile in 2004.
Nolan revealed today: “We are hoping that Cuan Na Grai will go to Cheltenham in November for the Greatwood Hurdle.
“Although he won the Galway Hurdle on good to firm going, I’m hoping he doesn’t need it really quick. He should handle some cut in the ground, and we would take our chance on good to soft.
“Unlike Accordion Etoile, who has a good change of gear and likes to be ridden from off the pace, Cuan Na Grai is more of a galloper, and can go from the front.
“He seems in really good form and I hope we can keep him in the same shape until Cheltenham. If he progresses and stays healthy, I’m hoping that he will be good enough to take his chance in the Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival.”
The home defence is spearheaded by the Philip Hobbs-trained duo Detroit City and Noble Request, winners of the Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle and Scottish Champion Hurdle respectively, who are both likely to figure at the top end of the weights, which will be available on Wednesday, November 1.
Detroit City, who also landed the totesport Cesarewitch on the Flat at Newmarket earlier this month, races in the familiar yellow and black colours of owner Terry Warner, who saw his Rooster Booster (another grey), also trained by Philip Hobbs, collect the race in 2002 en route to victory in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham the following March.
Hobbs has also entered recent Cheltenham winner O’Toole and Bureaucrat, who showed decent form over hurdles in novice company last season.
Champion jump trainer Paul Nicholls has entered Grade One Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle victor Noland and Desert Quest, who numbered the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March among his successes last season, while Howard Johnson has two entries in Arcalis and Mephisto.
Jonjo O’Neill, who hit the bullseye last year in the race with Lingo, has Hasty Prince, Ursis and East Tycoon in this time, and Acambo, Desert Air and Pablo Du Charmil are possibles for David Pipe, while Nicky Henderson has entered Caracciola, All Star, Tarlac and Jack The Giant.
Brighton-based trainer Gary Moore is responsible for 20 per cent of the entries, with Verasi, victorious in the William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Sandown last year, among his eight possibles for the race. The others are Nawamees, Ameeq, Heathcote, Grasp, Guru, Nation State and Vinmix De Bessy.
The six Irish-trained entries include the Noel Meade-trained pair Sweet Wake, a good fifth behind Noland in the Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival in March, and Jazz Messenger, who finished two places behind his stable companion in the same race, plus Charlie Swan’s Master Ofthe Chase, The Last Hurrah from Jesscia Harrington’s stable, and the Michael Phillips-trained Red Square Lady.
Other interesting entries include Seamus Mullins’ Kawagino, who ran an absolute blinder to come home seventh behind Brave Inca in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at 500/1, John Quinn’s useful ex-Flat racer Crow Wood, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Mahogany Blaze, and Trouble At Bay and Howle Hill, both trained by Alan King.
Barbury Castle Estate generously sponsors the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle which is named after the racehorse rehabilitation charity which is based on the outskirts of Marlborough, Wiltshire. Prize money this year has risen to £65,000 from £50,000.
The Open runs for three days, starting with Countryside Day on Friday, November 10 and continuing with the Paddy Power Gold Cup Day on Saturday, November 11.
The Greatwood Handicap Hurdle is one of three races at the meeting which are part of the BHB’s Order of Merit series. The others are the £110,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup and the £60,000 Servo Computer Services Trophy Handicap Chase which both take place on Saturday, November 11.
PAST WINNERS SINCE 1990 - THE GREATWOOD HANDICAP HURDLE
2005 Lingo 6-10-06 5-1 Jonjo O’Neill Tony McCoy 19
2004 Accordion Etoile 5-10-06 10-3F Paul Nolan IRE John Cullen 9
2003 Rigmarole 5-11-12 33-1 Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh 10
2002 Rooster Booster 8-11-12 7-1 Philip Hobbs Seamus Durack 11
2001 Westender 5-10-13 11-8F Martin Pipe Tony McCoy 13
2000 Hulysse Royal 5-10-00 9-1 Oliver Sherwood Jimmy McCarthy 12
1999 Rodock 5-10-00 11-4F Martin Pipe Tony McCoy 13
1998 Grey Shot 6-11-05 11-4F Ian Balding Jamie Osborne 16
1997 Mr Percy 9-10-09 14-1 Josh Gifford Philip Hide 17
1996 Space Trucker 5-11-11 7-1 Jessica Harrington IRE Jamie Osborne 9
1995 Lonesome Train 6-9-09 33-1 Colin Weedon Barry Fenton 15
1994 Atours 6-11-05 3-1F David Elsworth Paul Holley 10
1993 Leotard 6-12-00 3-1 Oliver Sherwood Jamie Osborne 7
1992 Valfinet 5-10-09 7-2F Martin Pipe Peter Scudamore 9
1991 Shu Fly 7-11-01 10-1 Susan Oliver Steve Smith Eccles 12
1990 Liadett 5-11-10 9-2 Martin Pipe Mark Perrett 8
ATR BREEDERS’ CUP COVERAGE SET TO REACH UP TO 400,000 VIEWERS
EUROPE FIELDS ITS STRONGEST EVER CHALLENGE AT THE WORLD THOROUGHBRED CHAMPIONSHIPS
At The Races, the UK and Ireland's most watched dedicated racing channel, will broadcast exclusive free to view coverage of the 23rd Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships on Saturday 4th November 2006.
Covering every race live from Churchill Downs, ATR’s Breeders’ Cup programme will be hosted by Broadcaster of the Year, Robert Cooper, together with US racing expert guests, Jason Weaver and Dale McKeown.
Online attheraces.com has a free to access, dedicated Breeders’ Cup microsite (www.attheraces.com/breederscup) where users can view every past Breeders’ Cup race, get all the news and preview analysis on this year’s Championships and, from next week, see a specially recorded 60 minute Breeders’ Cup preview programme presented by Dave Compton, Jason Weaver and Barry Faulkner.
The eight Breeders’ Cup Championship races are this year worth a record $20m in prize money and the European challenge for honours promises to be the most powerful ever in the 23-year history of the event.
English star Ouija Board runs in the Filly & Mare Turf and aims to repeat her triumph of two years ago.
The Mile race fields a strong European contingent that could include Ad Valorem, Aussie Rules, Ivan Denisovich, Librettist, Rob Roy, Araafa, Echo Of Light and Sleeping Indian.
Hurricane Run, Red Rocks and Scorpion are all entered in the Turf. Then the enigmatic but brilliant George Washington will be joined by David Junior in the $5m Classic as both bid to plunder the biggest prize of all from under the nose of American champion-elect, Bernardini.
ATR’s commingling agreement with TRNi will see bookmakers Ladbrokes, William Hill, Skybet, Bet Direct and Blue Square all offer customers the chance to bet straight into US pools. The Ultra Pick 6 Pool on the Breeders’ Cup will be worth a guaranteed $3 million.
Matthew Imi, Chief Executive, ATR said: “The agreement announced yesterday with US network, TVG, has really established ATR as the UK home of American racing. It is therefore only natural that the Breeders’ Cup should be a key focus of both our on air and online coverage. The event is one of the highlights of the international calendar and we are delighted to be able to showcase it to the widest possible audience. We wish connections of all of the UK and Irish runners the very best of luck.”