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Monday, November 29, 2010


Trainer Martin Keighley is looking forward to seeing Champion Court return to Cheltenham as the exciting novice bids for another Grade Two success in the three-mile £25,000 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (1.55pm) on the second day of The International, Saturday, December 11.

The five-year-old made an impressive debut over hurdles when staying on strongly to beat Sybarite by seven lengths in the Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs at The Open on November 14.

Keighley, based near Condicote in Gloucestershire, revealed today: “We will give Champion Court an entry in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on December 11 and I am hoping that we can go back to Cheltenham with him, weather permitting.

“I felt that it was throwing him in at the deep end to start him off in a Grade Two around Cheltenham but the owner was keen to go.

“Champion Court was entitled to be a bit novicey and Warren (Marston) tried to give him an education but I was thrilled with the way he quickened turning for home and again after the last flight.

“He has come out of that race in good order and we think a hell of a lot of him. Hopefully, there is lots more to come from him and the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at The Festival (Cheltenham, Grade One, Friday, March 17, 2011) will be definitely his main aim this season.”

Some of the leading contenders for the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on the opening day of The Festival, Tuesday, March 14, will bid to further their claims in the £150,000 Grade Two StanJames.com International (3.05pm) over two miles and a furlong.

This year’s contest is set to include the Philip Hobbs-trained Menorah, who has been victorious on both his visits to Cheltenham, taking the Grade One Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival in March and the £100,000 Grade Three Greatwood Handicap Hurdle under top-weight at The Open on November 14.

Paul Nicholls is aiming Silviniaco Conti at the StanJames.com International after the unbeaten four-year-old posted an emphatic victory in the Grade Two Ascot Hurdle over two and a half miles on November 20, while Colin Tizzard is contemplating letting last season’s Weatherbys Champion Bumper winner, the exciting Cue Card who is unbeaten in four starts, take his chance after the four-year-old sauntered to a facile victory in the Grade Two Cheltenham Collection Sharp Novices' Hurdle at The Open.

The second day of The International also features the £150,000 Grade Three December Gold Cup (2.30pm) and the entry of 32 for the two mile, five furlong handicap chase includes Little Josh, who posted a pillar to post victory for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and his jockey son Sam in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at The Open.

Other notable contenders include the Nicky Henderson-trained Dave’s Dream, who also triumphed at The Open when readily taking the paddypower.com Handicap Chase, the Paddy Power Gold Cup runner-up Dancing Tornado, from the stable of Michael Hourigan in Ireland, and Great Endeavour, who won the Byrne Group Plate at The Festival for trainer David Pipe.

The remaining races on Saturday’s card include the £35,000 Grade Two Unicoin Homes Relkeel Hurdle (3.40pm) over an extended two and a half miles.

The first day of The International, Friday, December 10, is headed by the Listed £40,000 www.maxwell-drummond.com Handicap Chase (1.50pm), which was won in 2008 by subsequent Grand National victor Mon Mome, and the £22,500 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (1.15pm) over Cheltenham’s unique cross country course.

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