SIMON FACES NO SIMPLE TASK IN LETHEBY & CHRISTOPHER CHASE
Meeting - Festival Trials Day, Saturday, January 26
Admission Prices - Club/Tattersalls £20, Best Mate £8
Gates Open - 10.30am
First race - 1pm
Racing Post Chase hero Simon heads to Cheltenham tomorrow for the £100,000 Grade Two Letheby & Christopher Chase (2.40pm) over an extended three miles and a furlong, with connections hoping that three is indeed the magic number following two smart efforts at Prestbury Park already this season.
The Mercy Rimell-owned nine-year-old ran promisingly on his seasonal bow when fifth to Sir Rembrandt in the Grade Three Servo Computer Services Trophy at The Open on November 17. Simon then finished strongly in the Listed Boylesports.com Cashback Chase over an extended three miles and a furlong on December 14, going down by three quarters of a length to Over The Creek when conceding 17lb to that rival.
Trainer John Spearing revealed this morning: “Simon is fine and is in good form. I was very pleased with his run at Cheltenham last time as he was giving a lot of weight to the winner, who is a good horse.
“The Letheby & Christopher Chase is a tough race and how he runs could tell us where we go with him in the future. The plan is hopefully to take him to Kempton for the Racing Post Chase again. He’s not in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup, so we’ll play it by ear from there.”
Simon announced himself as a classy performer last term with victories in the Listed Sky Bet Chase and the Grade Three Racing Post Chase over three miles, which he won by a convincing 10 lengths.
The Kinnersley handler continued: “The ground should be fine as he doesn’t really mind what it is.”
Simon faces seven rivals in the prestigious Letheby & Christopher Chase, which is one of the leading trials for the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Festival.
The fantastic field is made up of the top-class Grade One King George VI Chase runner-up Our Vic, Grade One Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup winner Neptune Collonges, 2006 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup hero State Of Play, last season’s Grade Two Ryanair Chase third Billyvoddan, Paddy Power Gold Cup third Knowhere, Madison Du Berlais and the classy Faasel.
Howard Johnson reports that star hurdler Inglis Drever, twice a winner of the Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle at The Festival (2005 & 2007), is on target for a big run in the £60,000 Grade Two Byrne Group Cleeve Hurdle (3.50pm) over three miles, despite fears earlier in the week that the nine-year-old’s preparation may have been adversely affected by snow in County Durham.
The White Lea Farm trainer revealed today: “Inglis Drever left early this morning and all is well with him. As long as he comes back safe and sound then I’ll be happy. If he’s all right after tomorrow then we’ll go straight to the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.”
The 10 declarations for the Byrne Group Cleeve Hurdle also include last year’s victor Blazing Bailey from Alan King’s yard plus one runner from each France and Ireland, respectively Francois Doumen’s Millenium Royal and Tom Hogan’s Sonnyanjoe.
Johnson will also saddle the unbeaten Marleybow in the £30,000 Grade Two Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle (1.00pm). The five-year-old, from the family of Gaye Brief, Gaye Chance and Simon, won his only hurdles start over two and a half miles at Carlisle on November 4.
The trainer reported: “Marleybow is in fine form but I feel that he’ll make a better chaser. He doesn’t make a great shape over a hurdle and he’s still a bit novicey. He’s from a good family and is a real chasing type - he’s going there to keep Inglis Drever company.”
TOP-CLASS ACTION ALL ROUND
There is top-class action all round at Cheltenham tomorrow.
The seven-race card kicks off at 1.00pm with the Grade Two £30,000 Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle over two and a half miles.
Marleybow’s 10 opponents include the Nicky Henderson-trained Aigle D’Or. J P McManus’ charge was acquired off the Flat in France as a Listed winner and got his jumping career off to a good start with a novice hurdle win at Lingfield Park early this month.
The fourth Grade Two race on the card is the £30,000 Wragge & Co Finesse Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (3.15pm), for which 11 go to post. Alan King, who won this race last year with subsequent JCB Triumph winner Katchit, has declared both Franchoek and Squadron.
The first-named looks the one to beat, having come home a good winner of the Grade One Coral Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow last month and also landing the Grade Two Cleanevent Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle at The Open in November.
Venetia Williams will be hoping that Something Wells can give her a third success in the £25,000 Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase (1.35pm). The seven-year-old got his season off to a good start, winning a handicap chase at Uttoxeter, before emphatically scoring in a novices' handicap chase at Taunton. Carrying 10st 12lb, he’s getting a stone off top-weight Portland Bill from the stable of Robert Alner.
Paul Nicholls sends New Little Bric out under Ruby Walsh for the £55,000 Grade Three betchronicle.com Trophy Handicap Chase (2.10pm). The Grade One-winning chaser hasn’t been seen since mid-December, when he pulled up behind Tamarinbleu in the Boylesports.com Gold Cup.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Patman Du Charmil, who was second in the Listed TurfTV New Year Chase Handicap, is also among the 12 declared runners, as is Paul Blockley’s Model Son, who was third in that Cheltenham contest.
Cheltenham Clerk of the Course & Director of Racing, Simon Claisse, said: “After a dry night and another drying day, the going on both the hurdles and chase courses is good to soft, soft in places, with a Turftrax going stick reading of 7.0. The forecast is for mild and windy weather.”
RECORD FIELD FOR SKY BET CHASE - MONTEITH & MOORE TALK ABOUT THEIR CHANCES IN £75,000 CONTEST
A maximum field of 22 will go to post for the £75,000 Listed Sky Bet Chase (3.00pm), the feature contest of a cracking seven-race card at Doncaster tomorrow, Saturday, January 26. The line-up is a record for the three-mile event (inaugurated in 1948) - the previous best was set in 1988 when Bob Tisdall saw off 20 rivals.
Scottish handler Peter Monteith is hopeful of a good performance from Standin Obligation in the Sky Bet Chase. Owned by David Johnson, the gelding joined Monteith at the start of the season having previously been trained by David Pipe. He is currently a 14/1 chance with Sky Bet and carries 10st 12lb. Wilson Renwick takes the place.
The Midlothian-based handler was pleased with the nine-year-old seasonal reappearance when he finished fourth in the three-mile Listed Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle on December 1 behind another of tomorrow’s runners, Harmony Brig, and Monteith believes that Standin Obligation will have come on for that outing.
Montieth said: “Standin Obligation is in very good form. He ran well on his first start for us at Newcastle and we were going to run him at Doncaster earlier in the month, but that meeting was unfortunately abandoned. He’ll have come on for his Rehearsal Chase run and he is fitter now.
“I am at Doncaster at the moment and the ground looks great and good ground is Standin Obligation’s forte. I’m hopeful of a good run, he is in good nick and I really like the horse.”
Monteith, bidding to become the first Scottish trainer to win the Sky Bet Chase since Alistair Whillans sent down Major Bell from Roxburghshire in 1999, reckons that Standin Obligation is worthy of his place in Saturday’s race and hopes that the Yorkshire venue will suit the talented jumper.
He continued: “Three miles around Doncaster will be right up his street and, although it looks a competitive race with some lovely horses declared to run, Standin Obligation deserves to have a crack - he is a good horse and is well.”
Gary Moore has high hopes for Dusky Warbler who steps into a handicap following some good performances in novice company, including a recent good second behind Dear Villez in a two miles and six furlong contest at Newbury on December 29. Moore’s son Jamie will be in the saddle on Dusky Warbler, who carries 10st 6lb.
Sussex-based Moore commented: “Dusky Warbler is in the order of his life, but he will need to be against some of those horses. He probably ran his best race for us last time out at Newbury and a galloping track like Doncaster will suit him well.”
The nine-year-old, who finished second behind the great Persian Punch in the 2003 Group Two Doncaster Cup on the Flat, has some top-quality form over hurdles, having finished third in the Grade One Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2005.
Moore is hopeful that the current good to soft conditions will aid Dusky Warbler’s chances in the Sky Bet Chase and that a step up in trip will not inconvenience his unexposed chaser, who is set to make only his fifth start over fences on Saturday.
The trainer continued: “Dusky Warbler needs some cut in the ground, so softish going will be fine and I don’t think the step up to three miles will be a problem.”
Jointly heading the weights for the three-mile contest are L’Ami, trained in France by Francois Doumen and the Paul Nicholls-trained Opera Mundi, the 5/1 market leader with Sky Bet. Nicholls will be aiming for his second Sky Bet Chase victory following the success of Colourful Life in 2005.
Saltburn handler Keith Reveley is doubly represented with Ungaro and Rambling Minster as he attempts to follow in the footsteps of his mother Mary who trained the 1991 heroine Dalkey Sound and the 1994 victor Carbisdale.
Henry Daly runs the useful Alderburn, a good third behind Vodka Bleu at Ascot last time out while the in-form David Pipe yard is represented by An Accordion, who ran better than his sixth place suggests at Cheltenham last time out when a bad blunder four fences from home ruined his chance.
Yardbird was an impressive winner at Kempton over the Christmas period and another contender going into the Sky Bet Chase on the back of a win is the Charlie Mann-trained Bagan, who has been the subject of good support in the ante-post market with Sky Bet this week.
The going at Doncaster is currently good to soft, soft in places.
SKY BET CELEBRATES RETURN TO DONCASTER WITH FANTASTIC OFFERS
Sky Bet is delighted to be returning to Doncaster. The Sky Bet Chase was last run on Town Moor in 2005, with the last two renewals having taken place at Southwell while Doncaster underwent its successful £34-million redevelopment.
In celebration of this fact, Sky Bet will be offering a fantastic each-way deal, with a quarter the odds on ALL races at both Cheltenham and Doncaster tomorrow.
Additionally, Sky Bet will be operating a 110 per cent book on all Pricewise races in tomorrow’s Racing Post.
The Pricewise guarantee will also be operational, meaning that early prices will be held on all Pricewise races from 8.30am - 8.45am for telephone and internet customers and from 8.30am - 10.15am for customers using the interactive red button facility on any Sky digital channel or ATR 415.
LATEST SKY BET PRICES
Opera Mundi 5/1, Bagan 8/1, An Accordion 10/1, Yardbird 11/1, Alderburn 14/1, Rambling Minster 14/1, Standin Obligation 14/1, Ungaro 14/1, Brooklyn Brownie 16/1, Dusky Warbler 20/1, Harmony Brig 20/1, Idle Talk 20/1, Juveigneur 20/1, L'Ami 20/1, Ma Yahab 20/1, Our Armageddon 20/1, Aztec Warrior 20/1, Henry's Pride 25/1, Lidjo de Rouge 25/1, Thistlecraft 25/1, Himalayan Trail 33/1, Korelo 66/1
Each-Way: 1/4 the odds 1, 2, 3, 4
THE SKY BET CHASE ROLL OF HONOUR (1980 - 2007)Year Name Age/Wgt Trainer Jockey Owner SP Runners
2007* SIMON 8-11-02 John Spearing Andrew Thornton Mercy Rimell 7/1 10
2006* A GLASS IN THYNE 8-10-12 Ben Pollock Andrew Thornton John Dale 16/1 15
2005 COLOURFUL LIFE 9-10-12 Paul Nicholls Joe Tizzard Andy Peake & David Jackson 9/1 12
2004 TYNEANDTHYNEAGAIN 9-10-04 Richard Guest Henry Oliver Norman Mason 7/1 11
2003 BARRYSCOURT LAD 9-10-01 Martin Pipe Rodi Greene Roseberry Racing 9/2 18
2002 MOOR LANE 10-10-04 Ian Balding Barry Fenton Bob Michaelson 4/1Fav 12
2001 HEIDI III 6-10-02 Micky Hammond Dean Gallagher Intercity Partnership 20/1 14
2000 BEAU 7-11-00 Nigel Twiston-Davies Tom Jenks Sylvia Tainton 16/1 14
1999 MAJOR BELL 11-10-00 Alistair Whillans Adrian Maguire Middlemiss, McAllan, Hutton 20/1 19
1998 SPEAKER WEATHERILL 9-11-11 Owen Brennan Martin Brennan Lady Anne Bentinck 4/1Fav 16
1997 GENERAL COMMAND 9-11-10 Gordon Richards Paul Carberry Robert Ogden 5/2Fav 12
1996 ADDINGTON BOY 8-10-08 Gordon Richards Mark Dwyer Gott Foods Ltd 11/2 12
1995 Meeting Abandoned
1994 CARBISDALE 8-11-04 Mary Reveley Peter Niven Mrs M Williams 13/2 10
1993 YOUNG HUSTLER 6-10-00 Nigel Twiston-Davies David Bridgwater Gavin MacEchern 9/2 14
1992 Meeting Abandoned
1991 DALKEY SOUND 8-10-09 Mary Reveley Peter Niven G Brown 9/1 19
1990 MAN O’MAGIC 9-11-10 Kim Bailey Mark Perrett James Greig 7/2 11
1989 PROVERITY 8-11-08 John Edwards Tom Morgan Mrs P Shaw 100/30 11
1988 BOB TISDALL 9-12-05 John Edwards Tom Morgan K Al-Said 16/1 21
1987 Meeting Abandoned
1986 Meeting Abandoned
1985 Meeting Abandoned
1984 Meeting Abandoned
1983 GET OUT OF ME WAY 8-10-00 Graham Thorner Paul Barton V Kilkenny 7/2 9
1982 BREGAWN 8-11-06 Michael Dickinson John Francome M Kennelly 11/8Fav 9
1981 TRAGUS 9-10-13 David Morley Bob Davies J Morley 6/1 10
1980 JER 9-10-00 Peter Bevan Phil Tuck G Wyse 9/2 8