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Thursday, November 18, 2010



IMPERIAL COMMANDER TAKES ON SIX IN BETFAIR CHASE AT HAYDOCK ON SATURDAY




CAPTAIN AMERICO AMONG 20-STRONG FIELD FOR 40% BETTER OFF ON BETFAIR SP “FIXED BRUSH” HANDICAP HURDLE

Last season’s totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander will take on six rivals in a superb renewal of the £200,000 Grade One Betfair Chase (3.25pm), highlight of the first day of the Northwest Masters at Haydock Park on Saturday, November 20.


The nine-year-old, who is trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, will make his second consecutive appearance in the prestigious three-mile chase, having gone down by a nose to Kauto Star in a thrilling climax to last year’s contest.

He is set to face stiff competition this season from the likes of What A Friend, who posted a pair of Grade One victories last term in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown in December and the totesport Bowl at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.


The up and coming chaser is part-owned by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and represents the stable of Paul Nicholls, who has already enjoyed three successes in the Betfair Chase courtesy of Kauto Star (2006, 2007 & 2009).

In-form trainer Philip Hobbs will be represented by Planet Of Sound, who ended his 2009/10 campaign with victory in the Grade One Punchestown Gold Cup in April, while the Tom George-trained Nacarat heads to Haydock on the back of a comfortable victory in the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on October 30.

Tidal Bay boasts a pair of Grade One successes over fences, having triumphed in the Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase at Cheltenham and Aintree’s Maghull Novices’ Chase for trainer Howard Johnson in 2008, while the Venetia Williams-trained Atouchbetweenacara enjoyed his finest hour when scoring in the Grade Two Silver Trophy Chase at Cheltenham in April, 2009.

Cartmel handler James Moffatt is looking forward to seeing his stable star Chief Dan George taking on some of the best chasers around. The 10-year-old triumphed in the Grade One Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting in 2007 and posted a game victory on his latest start in a Grade Three handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Moffatt commented: “Chief Dan George is in good nick at the moment - he went for a racecourse gallop at Haydock last week and he worked very well.

“He’s got a lot to find with Imperial Commander but the straw that I can hold on to is that the one time that we have previously taken him on, in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle, we beat him.

“I know that my horse has got a lot on his plate but he is in good form and we have trained him specifically for this race. He won a Grade One over hurdles at 20/1 and he won at the Cheltenham Festival last time out at 33/1. If one of the big trainers had him, he would be a lot shorter in the betting.

“If you take out Imperial Commander, we are not a million miles away from horses like What A Friend and, as long Chief Dan George brings his A-game, he won’t disgrace himself.”

To win the Betfair Chase – sponsors bet: 4-5 Imperial Commander, 10-3 What A Friend, 9-1 Nacarat, 12-1 Planet Of Sound, 41-1 Tidal Bay, 99-1 Chief Dan George, 129-1 Atouchbetweenacara

Saturday’s card also features the £75,000 Listed 40% Better Off On Betfair SP “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle (2.50pm) and a maximum field of 20 going to post for the three-mile contest includes Captain Americo, who posted an emphatic nine-length verdict on his debut for trainer James Ewart in a Kelso handicap hurdle on November 6.

Dumfriesshire-based Ewart, who enjoyed victory on the first day of the Northwest Masters with Sa Suffit last year, said: “We were expecting Captain Americo to win well at Kelso and he came out of the race in good order. He was fit enough to do himself justice there, so there wouldn’t be a lot of improvement to come fitness-wise, but it was nice to get a bit of confidence into him.

“He has gone up 15lb for that win but he would have probably still won at Kelso off his new mark. He has got a reasonable weight (10st 13lb) on Saturday and it will be a fiercely run contest - he gallops, stays, and he jumped well at Kelso. If he does the same again, then he would have a chance.”

David Pipe will be represented in the 40% Better Off On Betfair SP “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle by Grands Crus, who was the ready winner of a Cheltenham handicap hurdle last weekend. Other notable contenders include the Nicky Henderson-trained pair of Tasheba and Peveril as well at last season’s Coral Cup third James De Vassy, whose trainer Nick Williams sent out Diamond Harry to victory in this race 12 months ago.

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.

Coronation Street stars Ryan Thomas, Jennie McAlpine, Antony Cotton, Mikey North and Brooke Vincent (Coronation Street's Jason Grimshaw, Fiz Stape, Sean Tully, Gary Windass and Sophie Webster respectively) will be in attendance in an initiative organised by Racing For Change and will present the trophy to winning connections following the first race. Racing For Change has also made a donation to the Coronation Street 50th Anniversary Appeal, which supports The Christie Cancer Centre in Manchester, the NSPCC and Cancer Research UK.


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).

GOING

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, Haydock Park's Clerk of the Course, explained: "We have had five millimetres of rain in the last 24 hours and we are due to receive around another five millimetres today.

"We should then experience a dry day tomorrow and conditions should also remain dry for Betfair Chase day on Saturday."


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