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Monday, November 15, 2010


Imperial Commander heads a stellar cast of 10 remaining on course for the £200,000 Grade One Betfair Chase (3.25pm) at Haydock Park on Saturday, November 20, day one of the Northwest Masters, following today’s five-day confirmation stage.

Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, the nine-year-old was narrowly denied in last year’s three-mile race when going down by a nose to Kauto Star in a thrilling finish, before gaining his revenge when winning the Grade One totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

Kauto Star gave Paul Nicholls his third success in the Betfair Chase last term and this year the champion trainer relies on What A Friend, who recorded a pair of Grade One victories last season in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown in December and the totesport Bowl at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.

Albertas Run also posted a pair of Grade One successes last term when winning the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and the John Smith’s Melling Chase at Aintree, both races being run over around two and a half miles.

The Jonjo O’Neill-trained nine-year-old, who also scored over three miles in the Grade One RSA Chase at the 2008 Cheltenham Festival, was fourth on his seasonal return when carrying top-weight in the Grade Two totetentofollow Old Roan Chase at Aintree on October 23.

Mick Meagher, racing manager to owner Trevor Hemmings, revealed today: “The Betfair Chase is still an option for Albertas Run and we will make a decision later in the week whether he goes to Haydock or heads to Ascot for the Amlin 1965 Chase.

“He will go where the ground is better as he wouldn’t want soft going. He won the Ascot race last year and he would have to carry a 10lb penalty there, but you don’t get penalties for nothing.

“The trip would not be the main concern for him if he were to go to Haydock - he’s won the RSA Chase and has been runner-up to Kauto Star in the King George VI Chase, so I don’t think that three miles would be an issue.

“He is a Grade One horse and you have to take on the likes of Imperial Commander when you reach that level. He won the two big two and a half-mile chases last season and you’ve got to take on the top horses in the top races.”

Other notable contenders include Planet Of Sound, who annexed the Grade One Punchestown Gold Cup for in-form trainer Philip Hobbs in April, and the Tom George-trained Nacarat, successful in the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on his latest start.

Tidal Bay, a dual Grade One winner over fences as a novice, could return to the larger obstacles for handler Howard Johnson, while the Lucinda Russell-trained Silver By Nature may return to the scene of his greatest success to date, having triumphed in the race now know as the Grade Three totesport.com Grand National Trial in February.

Massini’s Maguire made a winning debut for his new trainer David Pipe when winning a Listed handicap chase at Ascot on October 30, while the potential line-up is completed by the Venetia Williams-trained Atouchbetweenacara and James Moffatt’s stable star Chief Dan George, who landed a Grade Three handicap chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival.

To win the Betfair Chase – sponsors bet: 10-11 Imperial Commander, 4-1 What A Friend, 8-1 Nacarat, 16-1 Planet Of Sound, 17-1 Albertas Run, 18-1 Silver By Nature, 25-1 Massini’s Maguire, 35-1 Tidal Bay, 54-1 Chief Dan George, 99-1 Atouchbetweenacara

Master Timeform ratings, not weight-adjusted.

NACARAT (FR) - 165
TIDAL BAY (IRE) - 159 $

Betfair spokesman Tony Calvin commented: “Given that the Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander is reported more forward than when edged out by Kauto Star in this race last year, and is at least 17lb clear on Timeform ratings, I am surprised he trades as high as 10-11 with us.

“One thing is for sure, they will be hoping for better luck than last year, when he traded at 1-5 in running, and was odds-on in the photo finish betting.

“He is sure to be tough to beat but 4-1 chance What A Friend is thought to have improved enough to give him a race.”

Saturday’s superb seven-race card also features the £75,000 Listed 40% Better Off On Betfair SP “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle (2.50pm) over three miles, which has attracted a bumper entry of 36 including last year’s Welsh National winner Dream Alliance and Grand Crus, who easily scored in a Cheltenham handicap hurdle yesterday.

Subsequent Champion Hurdle winner Binocular won the £40,000 Betfair iphone & Android App Hurdle (1.50pm) in 2008 and several stars of the future could be on show with the likes of Grade One scorer Barizan and ready Cheltenham winner Clerk’s Choice among the 10 entries for the two-mile contest.

The day commences at 12.40pm with the two-mile £17,500 Coronation Street 50th Anniversary Novices’ Hurdle over two miles, and also includes the £25,000 Follow Paul Nicholls On Facebook And Twitter Handicap Chase (1.15pm), also over two miles.

The card concludes with the £7,000 Timeform Betfair Racing Club Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (3.55pm), which was won last year by Peddlers Cross, who went on to Grade One glory over hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Northwest Masters continues at Aintree on Sunday, November 21, which is the only raceday of the year to feature two races over the famous Grand National fences - the £60,000 totesuper7 Grand Sefton Chase (12.35pm) and the £100,000 Listed totesport.com Becher Chase (1.45pm).


The going at Haydock Park is currently:

Chase Course: Good to Soft, Soft in places

Hurdles Course: Good to Soft, Good in places

Kirkland Tellwright, Clerk of the Course at Haydock Park, said: "We are experiencing a dry and bright day today. Rain is forecast to arrive on Wednesday or Thursday, with 15 millimetres the current forecast.

"We should then see dry and mild conditions through to the weekend. At this stage, I would not expect the ground on Saturday to be hugely dissimilar to its current condition."


Trainer Jim Goldie is seeking a third victory in the £60,000 totesuper7 Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (12.35pm) at Aintree on Sunday, November 21, when he could also seek a first triumph in the day’s feature contest, the £100,000 Listed totesport.com Becher Chase (1.45pm).

Goldie is responsible for three of the 26 entries for the totesuper7 Grand Sefton Handicap Chase over an extended two miles and five furlongs, the first of two races over the Grand National fences on Sunday, with Stormin Exit, last year’s third Craiglands and the 2007 victor Lampion Du Bost. Goldie was also successful in the 2008 totesuper7 Grand Sefton when Endless Power took the spoils.

Craiglands and Lampion Du Bost are also engaged among a high-class entry of 30 for the three and a quarter mile totesport.com Becher Chase, which is headed by the past two winners of the Welsh National, Dream Alliance (2009) and subsequent Grade One victor Notre Pere (2008). Also among the entries are the most recent two Scottish National victors, Merigo (2010) and Hello Bud (2009).

Hello Bud, who finished fifth in the John Smith’s Grand National last season, is trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies who could also be represented in the totesport.com Becher Chase by Irish Raptor, successful over the Grand National fences when taking the 2009 John Smith’s Topham Chase. Twiston-Davies, who enjoyed a wonderful weekend at Cheltenham, could aim for a big-race double at the Northwest Masters with totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander set to run in Saturday’s Betfair Chase at Haydock Park.

Goldie is intent on running all three of his charges, although he is yet to determine whether Craiglands and Lampion Du Bost will bid for the totesport.com Becher Chase or the totesuper7 Grand Sefton Handicap Chase.

He revealed today: “Stormin Exit is probably my number one contender for the totesuper7 Grand Sefton. We’ve trained him for the race and he is in good order, so hopefully we can get there feeling 100 per cent.

“He won well at Ayr last season on good ground but earlier in his career he wanted a bit of cut. He handles most ground but I would prefer it to stay dry - those fences are not quite as big when it’s good ground. Whatever the ground is like, we’ll be there.

“Craiglands and Lampion Du Bost are in the totesport.com Becher Chase and the totesuper7 Grand Sefton. The two of them are liable to be out of the handicap in both races, so we’ll have a look and go for the race in which they’re not as far wrong at the weights.

“Lampion Du Bost won the Grand Sefton three years ago. He has been off since January, 2008, with an injury but he seems fine again. It is a big ask, whatever happens, but he does like the course.

“Craiglands was third in last year’s Grand Sefton, so I think he will jump around again, but we will look at both races for those two and see what’s happening nearer the time. The plan is for all three to run but we will have a look at the races and make our minds up later.”

Also engaged in the totesuper7 Grand Sefton Handicap Chase are last season’s John Smith’s Topham Chase winner Always Waining from the Peter Bowen yard, the Colin Tizzard-trained Oiseau De Nuit and the Charlie Mann-trained Moon Over Miami.

As well as the Goldie-trained trio, others with entries in both races are the Charlie Swan-trained One Cool Cookie, Gullible Gordon from the Paul Nicholls yard, Fabalu and Mill Side, both trained by Donald McCain, the Milton Harris-trained Magic Sky, the Richard Philips-trained Pak Jak and Whatuthink from the Oliver McKiernan stable.

totesport.com Becher Chase – sponsors bet: 9 Gullible Gordon, Meanus Dandy, 10 Merigo, 11 Notre Pere, 12 Abbeybraney, Fabalu, Hello Bud, 14 Dream Alliance, Faasel, In Compliance, Irish Raptor, Maljimar, Royal Rosa, Tricky Trickster, Whatuthink, 16 Ballyvesey, Mill Side, The Last Derby, 20 Dashing George, Imoncloudnine, Magic Sky, Newman Des Plages, Pak Jack, 25 Craiglands, Lampion du Bost, Midnight Gold, Minster Shadow, One Cool Cookie, 33 Camden George, 50 Au Courant.

Each-Way Terms: ¼ 1-2-3-4

totesport spokesman George Primarolo said: “Paul Nicholls has won the Becher Chase three times in the last six years so it’s not surprising to see two of his entries at the head of the market though both will be having their first crack at the big Grand National fences when they line up on Sunday.”

The day’s racing kicks off with the £8,000 toteplacepot Maiden Hurdle (12.05pm) over an extended two miles and also includes the two and a half-mile £20,000 Live Football Betting at totesport.com Handicap Hurdle (1.10pm), which has attracted last season’s top-class novice Restless Harry among a classy 26-strong entry.

The popular fixture also incorporates the £12,000 toteswinger Flexibetting Handicap Chase (2.20pm) over three miles and a furlong, and continues with the £8,000 toteexacta Flexi Betting Handicap Hurdle (2.55pm) over two and a half miles, before concluding with the £3,000 totepool A Better Way To Bet Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (3.30pm) over two miles and a furlong.


The going at Aintree is currently:

Mildmay & Hurdle Course: Good to Soft
Grand National Course: Good to Soft

Andrew Tulloch, Aintree’s Director of Racing and Clerk of the Course, explained: “We are forecast to receive some rain on Wednesday, which could ease conditions on both courses.

“I am pleased with the state of the Grand National course, it is looking in great shape.”

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