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Monday, October 20, 2008


Monet’s Garden bids for back-to-back victories in the £70,000 Grade Two intercasino.co.uk Old Roan Chase at Aintree on Sunday, October 26. The two and a half-mile contest is the first race in the 2008/2009 Order of Merit.

The popular Nicky Richards-trained grey saw off the mighty Kauto Star to land the spoils 12 months ago, having won the Grade One John Smith’s Melling Chase over the course and distance the previous April.

Monet’s Garden failed to fire in his last two starts in the spring but the David Yates-owned 10-year-old looked back to his old self in an exercise spin over hurdles after racing at Perth in September.

Richards revealed today: “Monet’s Garden is fine after his outing, the old lad’s in good nick and we’re looking forward to getting him back on the track at Aintree - he’s in good form with himself. It’ll be a very interesting race again and we’re looking forward to it.

“He summered well. I think a lot of my horses weren’t quite right in the spring and he was probably one of them, but hopefully it’ll be all guns blazing again on Sunday with him.

“The one thing about him is he’s got a great owner and we’ll run him when he’s ready to run. Hopefully, we’ll have a lot of fun again this winter with him.”

This year’s renewal of the prestigious contest has attracted a fantastic 22-strong entry, headed by last season’s Grade One John Smith’s Melling Chase victor Voy Por Ustedes. Exotic Dancer, third in the race last year, won in Grade Two company over three miles and a furlong at the 2007 John Smith’s Grand National Meeting.

The Howard Johnson-trained Tidal Bay triumphed in the Grade One Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in March and followed up with a resounding victory in the Grade One John Smith’s Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree in April.

The all-conquering Paul Nicholls could saddle Nozic and Galway Plate winner Oslot, while Donald McCain has engaged Regal Heights and 2008 John Smith’s Grand National sixth Cloudy Lane.

Snoopy Loopy has been in fine form this summer for trainer Peter Bowen, while other entries include Grade Two winner Knowhere, Ungaro, Moon Over Miami and Ashley Brook.

Since its inaugural running in 2005, the intercasino.co.uk Old Roan Chase has rapidly developed into a high-class event. The Henrietta Knight-trained Impek prevailed in 2005, while Kauto Star, trained by Paul Nicholls, won the prestigious limited handicap in 2006 en route to victories in the Betfair Chase, Tingle Creek Chase, King George VI Chase and Gold Cup at Cheltenham, as well as landing the Order of Merit.

Aintree’s first meeting since June is a two-day affair, with high-class jump racing taking place on Saturday, October 25, and Sunday, October 26.

The tremendous seven-race card at Aintree on Sunday also features the £50,000 intercasino.co.uk Four-Year-Old Hurdle (2.40pm). The extended two-mile contest has attracted seven entries, headed by the Nicholls-trained Pierrot Lunaire, winner of the Grade Two Littlewoods Direct Appeal Top Novices’ Hurdle over the course and distance in April.

Subsequent Champion Hurdle winner Katchit captured the prize last term for trainer Alan King and the Barbury Castle handler could be represented by Squadron.

The afternoon kicks off at 1pm with the £10,000 EBF Lexus Liverpool National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle over two and a half miles and is followed by the £10,000 Liverpool Echo Handicap Hurdle (1.35pm) over an extended three miles.

Also on the card are the £15,000 intercasino.co.uk Novices’ Chase (2.10pm), the £14,000 Silver Cross Handicap Chase (3.50pm)and the concluding £6,000 Enter 2009 John Smith’s People’s Race Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (4.25pm).

Saturday boasts a competitive seven-race fixture, featuring the £30,000 intercasino.co.uk Veterans’ Handicap Chase (2.05pm). The extended three-mile contest, for horses aged 10 years and older, has attracted 15 entries, including Fundamentalist, Rambling Minster, D’Argent and Naunton Brook.

Leslingtaylor won the Listed £22,000 intercasino.co.uk Molyneux Novices’ Chase (1.35pm) in 2007 and this year’s renewal of the two-mile race has 12 entries, including the smart Irish raider Dreamy Gent, trained Jessica Harrington.

The powerful Nicholls stable could saddle recent Cheltenham winner Poquelin and Tatenen, while Cool Operator and Striking Article could line up for trainer Howard Johnson.

Both days promise excellent racing, while Sunday has the added attraction of being Aintree’s annual family fun day with lots of entertainment on offer for all members of the family.

Admission prices are £19 for adults while accompanied children under 16 are admitted free.

Tickets can either be purchased on the gate, by calling 0844 5793001 or online at www.aintree.co.uk.




This year’s £216,000 Group One Racing Post Trophy (3.35pm) looks set to be another superb contest with 23 colts going forward for the mile-long contest, run at Doncaster on Saturday, October 25, following today’s five-day confirmation and supplementary stage

The final Group One of the British flat season has a rich tradition in providing clues for future Classic success, with recent winners including subsequent Epsom Derby victors Authorized (2006), Motivator (2004) and High Chaparral (2001) as well as French 2,000 Guineas scorer American Post (2003) and Brian Boru (2002), who returned to Doncaster the following season to take the Ladbrokes St Leger.

This year’s line up is set to include Sri Putra, whose trainer Michael Jarvis saddled Beldale Flutter to Racing Post Trophy glory in 1980. The Oasis Dream colt won the Group Three Solario Stakes at Sandown at the end of August before finishing eighth on good to firm ground in the Tattersalls Timeform Million at Newmarket on his latest start on October 4.

Jarvis commented: “We’ve entered Sri Putra in the Racing Post Trophy and the race is a definite possibility. He also holds an entry in the Horris Hill Stakes at Newbury on the same day and we will make a decision nearer the time.

“The ground was too firm for him at Newmarket. It rode very fast on that day and he’s just not as effective over that sort of going. He needs some cut in the ground so we will look to see where the ground is more suitable for him.

“He’ll have no difficulty with a mile, being out of an In The Wings mare and he’s in good form at the moment.”

Peter Chapple-Hyam, himself no stranger to Racing Post Trophy glory having saddled Commander Collins (1998) and Authorized (2006) to victory in the race, is set to be represented this year by Gibb River, who finished a staying-on seventh on his only racecourse appearance in a competitive maiden at Newbury on September 20.

Graham Skeates, who is the racing manager for owners Favourites Racing, is aware of the task facing the son of Mr Greeley but hopes that the colt can run a good race as he attempts to emulate stablemate Authorized, who was the last maiden to triumph in the Racing Post Trophy.

Skeates said: “The plan is for Gibb River to run in the Racing Post Trophy. On the face of it, it looks as if we are tilting at windmills but he got left in the stalls at Newbury and he’s a far better horse than he showed there.

“Alan Munro felt that he was kept in the stalls a long time and he was left three lengths at the start. He made up a lot of ground from two and a half furlongs out and seven furlongs was on the sharp side for him. A mile at Doncaster will suit him well and we would be very happy if the ground had some cut in it.

“He’s a very big unfurnished horse who is only literally coming to hand now. We are confident that he will be a very good horse in time and Peter has always thought a lot of him. The trainer is very happy with him and is looking forward to seeing him run a nice race.

“He’s got bags of ability and he’s just taken such a long time to come to hand. Peter and I have spoken about his previous winners of the Racing Post Trophy and he thinks that, while he’s not another Authorized at the moment, he’s more than happy enough to let him take his chance on Saturday.”

Aidan O’Brien, who has enjoyed Racing Post Trophy success with Saratoga Springs (1997), Aristotle (1999), High Chaparral (2001) and Brian Boru (2002), could this year rely on 10-length Tipperary maiden scorer Freemantle, along with Indian Ocean and Drumbeat, who finished fourth and fifth in the Group One National Stakes.

The master of Ballydoyle has also left in Navan maiden winner Malibu Bay, Gowran Park maiden scorer Set Sail, as well as Masterofthehorse and Hail Caesar, who came home third and fifth in the Group Two Beresford Stakes.

A strong Irish challenge of nine is completed by the Jim Bolger-trained Gan Amhras, who beat Masterofthehorse in a Naas maiden before finishing second in the Goffs Million at the Curragh, and Beresford Stakes runner-up Mourayan, from the yard of John Oxx.

Brian Meehan has five colts remaining, headed by Crowded House, who was second in his latest appearance in the Tattersalls Timeform Million, and recent Newbury maiden winner Skanky Biscuit. The Manton-based trainer could also be represented by the unraced Hilbre Point, Whispering Angel and Roman Point, while his former employer Richard Hannon could run Midnight Cruiser and Group Two Superlative Stakes runner-up Weald Park.

Jukebox Jury could bid to follow up his victory in the Group Two Royal Lodge Stakes for trainer Mark Johnston, while Sir Michael Stoute may aim for a second Racing Post Trophy win, following Dilshaan’s success in 2000, with Yarmouth maiden scorer Marching Time.

The other entries remaining after Monday’s forfeit stage are the Bryan Smart-trained Courageous and Roman Glory, from the stable of George Moore. Red Spider, who was an impressive winner of a Kempton Park maiden on his racecourse debut, has been supplemented by trainer John Gosden at a cost of £17,500.

David Williams, clerk of the course and estates manager at Doncaster, describes the current ground conditions as good, good to soft in places.

“The good to soft ground is mainly on the round course and the straight is currently on the easy side of good. We have had a little shower this morning and we are forecast anything up to four millimetres on Monday. Tuesday is set to be a reasonable day and Wednesday looks like being overcast.

“Rain is forecast for Thursday and I wouldn’t anticipate the ground drying out much before. I am expecting ground on the soft side of good for Friday’s racing.”

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