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Monday, November 21, 2005


Ante-post favourite, Trabolgan remains firmly on course for a crack at Saturday's £125,000 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury and features among 24 entries confirmed at today's five-day declaration stage.

The seven-year-old, last seen when an impressive winner at the Cheltenham Festival, will be bidding to land a first Hennessy victory for trainer Nicky Henderson.

Ladbrokes' 4-1 shot should benefit from the return of stable jockey Mick Fitzgerald who hopes to be back in the saddle after breaking a bone in his neck in July.

Said Fitzgerald earlier today, "Everything is on target for Saturday as I rode out this morning and my neck and shoulder were absolutely fine.

"It's a race I would dearly love to win as neither the boss or I have been lucky enough to and Newbury is practically our backyard."

Paul Nicholls, who won the race in 2003 with Strong Flow, remains triple handed with Cornish Rebel, Red Devil Robert and Colourful Life, all still hopefuls for the leading pre-Christmas steeple chase.

Rival Martin Pipe has four potential runners, including last year's Hennessy hero Celestial Gold and recent impressive Cheltenham winner Our Vic, while leading fancies King Harald, L'Ami and Lord Of Illusion all stand their ground.

The defection of Ollie Magern at the top of the handicap will see the weights rise three pounds for the three and a quarter mile showcase.

Lady Gabriella Windsor, daughter of HRH Prince Michael of Kent, will once again present the coveted Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup and a specially commissioned medallion to the winning owner, as well as a magnum of Hennessy X.O to the winning jockey and trainer.

The highlight of Newbury's new look three-day Winter Festival which gets under way this Friday, the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup is the oldest established commercially sponsored race in the country, and is one of two Order of Merit races on the Hennessy day programme.

With a bumper crowd expected, racegoers are advised to leave plenty of time for their journey or alternatively use the special train service operated by First Great Western, details of which can be found at www.newbury- racecourse.co.uk

Advance bookings are already well in excess of last year's total, although limited availability remains in both the Hennessy and Racegoers restaurants for Friday and Sunday, while badges for all enclosures can be purchased on the day or reserved in advance up until noon on Thursday on 01635 40015.


The Stan James Christmas Festival on Monday 26th December has moved to Sandown Park for one year during Kempton Park's redevelopment. There will be £420,000 in prize money on the single day with the Grade One Stan James King George VI Chase worth £200,000, the Stan James Christmas Hurdle £100,000 and the Stan James Feltham Novices' Chase, £70,000, providing Sandown Park racegoers with three Grade One races on the day.

The Tom Taaffe-trained Kicking King, winner of the 2004 Stan James King George VI Chase and 2005 Cheltenham Gold Cup, is one of two Irish trained entries as well as the Michael Hourigan-trained Beef Or Salmon, an impressive second to Kingscliff in the 2005 Grade One Betfair Chase . The other two foreign raiders come from France in the Francois Doumen-trained L'Ami and the Jean Paul Gallorini-trained Kario de Sormain, an impressive winner at Auteuil recently.

Amongst the 29 horses entered is last year's Stan James King George VI Chase runner-up and 2005 Betfair Chase winner, Kingscliff, who will be bidding to complete the second leg of a treble and £1 million bonus if successful in the Stan James King George VI Chase and totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The 2005 Charlie Hall Chase winner Ollie Magern is the sole horse for the Nigel Twiston-Davies stable whilst recent totesport Peterborough Chase winner Impek will be representing the Henrietta Knight and Jim Lewis combination. Paul Nicholls has entered four horses, Cornish Rebel, My Will, Royal Auclair and Thisthatandtother.

Martin Pipe has three entries including 2004 Hennessy and Paddy Power Gold Cup winner, Celestial Gold, It Takes Time and 2005 Paddy Power Gold Cup winner, Our Vic. All three are owned by David Johnson.

Monkerhostin, winner of the 2005 William Hill Haldon Gold Cup, is one of two horses for the Philip Hobbs yard along with One Knight. The 2004 Stan James Feltham Novices Chase winner Trabolgan and Irish Hussar are the two horses for Nicky Henderson.

Andrew Cooper, Director of Racing at Sandown Park, commented: "The quality of the entry is fantastic. It is a blend of stayers, two and a half milers, young pretenders and proven Champions, which makes the Stan James King George VI Chase the wonderful spectacle that it always is. We are looking forward to hosting the famous race whilst Kempton Park undergoes its redevelopment and look forward to the prospect of three cracking Grade One races on the day."

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