BEST MATE'S ASHES TO BE LAID TO REST AT CHELTENHAM
Cheltenham Racecourse announces today that Best Mate's ashes will be laid to rest behind the winning post prior to racing on Saturday, December 10. There will be a brief ceremony on the course at 11.00am to commemorate Henrietta Knight's star chaser, who tragically died after collapsing at Exeter on November 1.
Best Mate, winner of the totesport Gold Cup at Cheltenham in 2002, 2003 and 2004, was the first triple winner of chasing's Blue Riband since the great Arkle in the 1960s. In addition, Best Mate won his first race in Britain, a bumper, at Cheltenham in November, 1999 and was also successful in a novice chase at the course in November, 2000.
Jim Lewis, owner of Best Mate, is pleased the great horse will be honoured in a place that will always be in view of the race-going public.
He said: "Best Mate became the people's champion.' They loved him and he loved them.
"He will be at rest, at the scene of his greatest triumphs."
Edward Gillespie, Managing Director of Cheltenham Racecourse added: "One cannot overstate the contribution Best Mate has made to the wellbeing of our sport and, as the highest achieving champion since Arkle, he will continue to witness the race he made his own."
FAASEL DOUBLE-BOOKED FOR CHELTENHAM
Faasel, the head runner-up in the JCB Triumph Hurdle in March and a leading Smurfit Champion Hurdle contender, is set to race at Cheltenham's December Meeting in either the two mile, one furlong £75,000 Grade Two totesport Bula Hurdle or the £20,000-added Relkeel Hurdle over two miles, five and a half furlongs on Saturday, December 10.
Cumbrian trainer Nicky Richards is yet to decide which race his four-year-old gelding will contest, but anticipates there is plenty to look forward to after Faasel's pleasing short-head second to Admiral on his seasonal debut in a two-mile hurdle at Haydock earlier this month.
The Greystoke handler said: "He'll be entered in the totesport Bula and the Relkeel. We'll see the entries and the ground and so forth, but all being well, he'll definitely run in one of them.
"We were happy enough with the Haydock run. He's come back well and it's upwards and onwards now."
Faasel sported a first-time visor in the Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle in March and wore the same head-gear when subsequently victorious in the Grade One John Smith's Anniversary Four-Year-Old Hurdle at Aintree.
The visor was absent last time and Richards is considering re-applying it to the gelding who has won four of seven hurdles starts and is yet to finish out of the first two.
He said: "If we do put the head-gear on, then I'm not quite sure we'd do it at Cheltenham just yet. There's a fair chance that we will put the visor or blinkers back on him at some stage.
"He's very genuine but I think it just makes him concentrate for about a minute longer than he does when he hasn't got it on."
Richards could also be represented at the December Meeting by Lord Jack who is set to renew rivalry with Spot Thedifference in the £22,000 Sporting Index Handicap Chase on the previous day - Friday, December 9.
The nine-year-old exhibited his jumping prowess when second on his first attempt at Cheltenham's cross-country course in the Sporting Index Chase at The Open on November 11 and Richards is hopeful of another prominent showing.
Richards revealed: "Hopefully, Lord Jack will be back down for the cross-country race and I'm hoping for another good run.
"He enjoyed it last time, there's no doubt about that. We had him well schooled for that sort of thing and he jumped superbly."
He continued: "The plan was to take in the three cross-country races and maybe give him a run over hurdles between December and March. The plan at the moment is to come back to Cheltenham in March for the Sporting Index Handicap Chase at The Festival."
The feature race of Cheltenham's December Meeting is the £110,000 Grade 3 Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup, to be run on Saturday, December 10, the same day as the £75,000 totesport Bula Hurdle and the £20,000-added Relkeel Hurdle.
The two-day December Meeting begins on Friday, December 9 with a quality seven-race card featuring the £50,000 Mears Group Handicap Chase and the £22,000-added Sporting Index Handicap Chase.
Admission prices for both days of the December meeting are Club/Tattersalls: £20 (£18 in advance); online at www.cheltenham.co.uk &Group Rate (15 or more): £16; 16-24s: £12; Best Mate Enclosure: £8;online at www.cheltenham.co.uk £6.40.
Rooster Booster Raceday Package: £46 and Best Mate Raceday Package: £25.