Thursday, November 4, 2010
GOLDSWORTHY EYES PADDY POWER GOLD CUP FOR HILLS OF ARAN
Meeting - The Open - Friday, Saturday & Sunday, November 12, 13 & 14
First race - 1.15pm Friday, 12.45pm Saturday, 1.10pm Sunday
Tickets available from www.cheltenham.co.uk or by calling 08445 793 003.
Hills Of Aran is on the comeback trail and has the £150,000 Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup (2.30pm) at Cheltenham on Saturday, November 13, as his probable next target according to trainer Keith Goldsworthy, who saddled Hold Em to take third in last season’s renewal of the extended two and a half-mile contest.
The prestigious Paddy Power Gold Cup is the feature race at The Open at Cheltenham, which stages three thrilling days of top-quality Jump racing on Friday 12, Saturday 13 and Sunday 14, November.
Hills Of Aran, a 33/1 shot with the sponsor, was off the track for over a year after landing two facile victories in novice contests over fences in May and June, 2009, before returning to action in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle at The Showcase at Cheltenham on October 15, when he finished 12th.
The eight-year-old Sadler’s Wells gelding improved for that return to competition when carrying top-weight of 11st 12lb to finish fourth behind Any Given Day in the Listed Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle at Chepstow on October 23.
Goldsworthy revealed today: “We are looking at the Paddy Power Gold Cup for Hills Of Aran - he’s tuned up and primed and is ready to go somewhere. The Cheltenham race looks the preferred option of the two entries he has but a firm decision is yet to be made.
“The Paddy Power Gold Cup is the first race coming up so he will probably stay in at the next stage and we will see how it looks. He is going to get in the weights quite nicely there - he’s also in the Hennessy but a certain two horses (Kauto Star and Denman) could spoil the weights for everybody.
“Hills Of Aran showed his old spark back at Chepstow the other day. He ran a blinder on his second run back off a 15-month lay-off. He was giving away nearly two stones to the winner and he’s definitely on the comeback trail.
“We dropped him in at Cheltenham the time before and I said to Rhys (Flint) to be competitive but not to blast him. Our priority was to get his confidence up and get him round. At Chepstow I said to Rhys to put him in the race, get him right up there and see if we can rekindle his spark, and he did.”
Goldsworthy is hoping that Hills of Aran, who has only four chase outings under his belt, can top Hold Em’s third to the Edward O’Grady-trained Tranquil Sea (12/1 with Paddy Power) in last year’s Paddy Power Gold Cup.
The Pembrokeshire trainer continued: “We would usually have run Hold Em in these sorts of races but Hills of Aran is a better horse than Hold Em was - his mark (145) says he’s a better horse and I say he’s a better horse. He’s got a respectable mark and he has got to live up to it.
“Hold Em was third off a mark of 135 last year and Hills Of Aran will have to run off a 10lb higher mark than that but I think the ratings are right. He seems versatile so far as trip and ground are concerned, so we will have to see.
“Hills Of Aran has run in some big races in his time. If you look back at his novice hurdle runs at Cheltenham he’s mixed it with the best - the likes of Wichita Lineman, Massini’s Maguire, Tidal Bay and Osana. He was second to Kasbah Bliss a couple of seasons back at Haydock. On his going days, he’s a good horse.”
Paddy Power makes the Nicky Henderson-trained Grade One winner Long Run its current 7/2 market leader for the Paddy Power Gold Cup, which has a strong entry of 53. Among them, that gelding’s stable mate Mad Max is available at 10/1, as is Tranquil Sea’s stable mate, the top-class Catch Me.
Poquelin, runner-up last year before winning the Grade Three December Gold Cup at Cheltenham’s International in December, is a 12/1 chance for champion trainer Paul Nicholls, while Listed United House Gold Cup winner Massini’s Maguire (14/1) and Grade Three Byrne Group Plate victor Great Endeavour (5/1) could line up for trainer David Pipe.
The Jonjo O’Neill-trained Sunnyhillboy, runner-up to Great Endeavour in the Byrne Group Plate at The Festival in March is another leading fancy - currently a 6/1 chance.
The Open commences on Friday, November 12, with six enthralling races, including the £25,000 Grade Two Cheltenham Collection Sharp Novices’ Hurdle (1.50pm), the £40,000 Paddypower.com Handicap Chase (2.25pm), and the £25,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeplechase (3pm) over Cheltenham’s unique cross country course.
Saturday’s excellent six-race card, as well as featuring the Paddy Power Gold Cup, includes the £50,000 Grade Three Morson Group Handicap Chase (1.50pm) over an extended three miles and three furlongs.
The £100,000 Grade Three Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (2.20pm) headlines a thrilling six-race Sunday card on November 14, alongside the £30,000 Grade Two The Independent Newspaper Novices’ Chase (1.10pm), the £50,000 Sinbad Testimonial 2010/11 Chase (1.45pm) and the £25,000 Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (3.30pm).
AMERICAIN STRIKES DOWN UNDER AS CARTIER FOCUS SHIFTS TO AMERICA
Americain became the third European-trained winner of the Group One Emirates Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse, Australia, on Tuesday, November 2, and the victory sees him emerge as a leading contender for the 2010 Cartier Stayer Award.
Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre accompanied the five-year-old from his Chantilly, France, base to clinch the “race that stops a nation” under Gerald Mosse by two and three quarter lengths from Maluckyday, with Australian champion So You Think back in third.
Vintage Crop (1993) and Media Puzzle (2002), both trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld, are the other European winners of the race.
Americain completed a five-timer in becoming the first French-trained winner of the famous two-mile handicap, having prepared for the contest with wins in the Group Three Centrebet.com Geelong Cup down under on October 20 and the Group Two Darley Prix Kergorlay at Deauville, France, in August.
The Dynaformer horse now has 64 points for his performances in Pattern races in the Cartier Stayer category, placing him second behind dual Group One winner Gentoo (72 points). Group One Ascot Gold Cup hero Rite Of Passage has 48 points, while Celtic Celeb and The Irish Field Irish St Leger victor Sans Frontieres both have 32 points.
The Cartier Racing Awards recognise excellence in horseracing and the awards are the sport’s equivalent of the Oscars. Split into eight categories for the year’s top horses, including the particularly coveted Cartier Horse Of The Year, the awards are determined by points earned in Pattern races combined, at the end of the season, with the opinions of a panel of racing journalists, as well as votes from readers of the Racing Post and The Daily Telegraph.
European horseracing’s most prestigious accolades will be presented for the 20th time on November 16, during a glittering ceremony before an invited audience in the ballroom of London’s Dorchester Hotel.
The Cartier Racing Awards were established in 1991 to recognise the achievements of racehorses in Europe. The awards also include the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award Of Merit for the person or persons who, in the opinion of the special 18-strong Cartier Jury, has/have done most for European racing and/or breeding either over their lifetime or within the past 12 months.
The Cartier Two-Year-old Colt division was shaken up once again at the weekend when the Aidan O’Brien-trained Roderic O’Connor annexed the Group One Criterium International at Saint-Cloud, France. The Galileo colt took his points haul to 48 points, equal with the unbeaten Henry Cecil-trained Frankel, to whom he finished second in the Group One Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on October 16.
Group One winners Pathfork and Zoffany also have 48 points but the division is still jointly headed on 64 by Group One Racing Post Trophy winner Casamento and Dream Ahead, successful in the Group One Darley Prix Morny and Group One Shadwell Middle Park Stakes. Dual Group Two winner Approve remains on 54 points after finishing eighth in the Group Two Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte on November 1.
The great Goldikova already has the European record of 11 Group One wins to her name and goes for an unprecedented third TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile victory at Churchill Downs, USA, on Saturday evening (November 6). The Freddy Head-trained five-year-old, winner of last year’s Cartier Older Horse Award, currently tops both the Cartier Older Horse and Horse Of The Year categories with 144 points. However, her chance of breaking the Breeders’ Cup record has not been helped by being drawn 10 of the 11 runners in the American race.
Workforce, the brilliant winner of the Investec Derby at Epsom Downs and Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, currently has 104 points and Sir Michael Stoute’s charge is out to strengthen his claims for Cartier Awards honours in the Grade One Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf.
The Khalid Abdulla-owned three-year-old is fourth at present in the Pattern race points standings for the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt category behind Canford Cliffs (140), Cape Blanco (136) and Dick Turpin (112) but victory on Saturday would change all that.
Abdulla also has Midday in the running for Cartier honours and Breeders’ Cup glory, with the Cecil-trained Oasis Dream filly seeking back-to-back wins in the Grade One Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf on Friday, November 5.
Midday has 104 points as she chases Cartier Older Horse recognition, having triumphed this summer in the Group One Blue Square Nassau Stakes, Group One Darley Yorkshire Oaks and Group One Qatar Prix Vermeille.
Dual Oaks heroine Snow Fairy remains clear in the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly category with 118 points, while two-time Group One winner Misty For Me stays at the top of an unchanged Cartier Two-Year-Old Filly division with 72 points.
There are no changes to the Cartier Sprinter category, with Starspangledbanner (112) still in the vanguard.
Harry Herbert, Cartier’s racing consultant, commented today: “Americain’s stunning victory in Australia’s greatest race is in keeping with the excitement we have enjoyed throughout the 2010 Flat racing season.
“The thrills are not over yet, however, and all eyes will now focus on Churchill Downs as a strong party of top-class European raiders prepares to battle it out with the best America has to offer.
“The Cartier Racing Awards are all about rewarding excellence and I am sure we will see that in abundance in Kentucky on Friday and Saturday.”
For more information, please contact Harry Herbert, Cartier’s racing consultant (01488 669166), Sima Bibi of Cartier (020 7408 5740) or Mark Popham of Racenews (020 7704 0326)
CARTIER AWARDS 2010 LATEST POINTS STANDINGS
(points from performances in Pattern races up to and including November 2, 2010)
CARTIER HORSE OF THE YEAR
CANFORD CLIFFS 140
TWICE OVER 140
CAPE BLANCO 136
CARTIER OLDER HORSE
TWICE OVER 140
RIP VAN WINKLE 104
CARTIER THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT
CANFORD CLIFFS 140
CAPE BLANCO 136
DICK TURPIN 112
CARTIER THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY
SNOW FAIRY 118
SPECIAL DUTY 98
MUSIC SHOW 84
CARTIER TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT
DREAM AHEAD 64
RODERIC O'CONNOR 48
CARTIER TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY
MISTY FOR ME 72
WHITE MOONSTONE 56
LAUGHING LASHES 36
RITE OF PASSAGE 48
CELTIC CELEB 32
SANS FRONTIERES 32
LADY OF THE DESERT 48
SCOTTISH NATIONAL HERO MERIGO TARGETS totesport.com BECHER CHASE
Merigo brought the house down at Ayr in April when becoming a rare Scottish-trained winner of the Scottish Grand National and the talented nine-year-old has the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National itself in his sights as he heads to Aintree on Sunday, November 21, for the £100,000 Listed totesport.com Becher Chase (1.45pm).
The totesport.com Becher Chase is run over three and a quarter miles of the spectacular Grand National course on day two of the North West Racing Masters and is the premier trial for Aintree’s showpiece event, which this season takes place on Saturday, April 9, and is worth £925,000.
Andrew Parker is keen to give Merigo valuable experience over Aintree’s distinctive spruce fences and the trainer plans to send the Pistolet Bleu gelding to the totesport.com Becher Chase with the benefit of a run under his belt.
The Lockerbie-based trainer revealed today: “We are planning to take Merigo to the totesport.com Becher Chase. He runs on Saturday at Kelso over hurdles and then we will go to Aintree, all being well.
“He is in fantastic form and if anything he feels better than ever. A lot of that is just confidence - after winning a big race like the Scottish Grand National, even the horse knows he’s done well.
“The totesport.com Becher Chase is a stepping-stone towards the John Smith’s Grand National in the spring. We need to go up maybe 5lb to 7lb to guarantee ourselves a run in April. The reason for us going for the Becher Chase is that it’s a sighter at those one-off type of fences in a less pressing environment than the Grand National. If he finished third or fourth in the Becher, he might even go up enough to get into the Grand National.”
Merigo became the first Scottish-trained winner of the Scottish Grand National since Cockle Strand in 1982 when seeing off Gone To Lunch by nine lengths in April to give the trainer the biggest success of his career, for his long-standing owner Raymond Anderson Green.
Parker continued: “It was fantastic at Ayr. We had a bad year last year, weather-wise. We seemed to get hit quite hard by the cold snap in this part of Scotland and the whole season came together in that one race.”
The last Scottish Grand National winner to land the totesport.com Becher Chase and the John Smith’s Grand National was Earth Summit, who took the Scottish prize in 1994, added the John Smith’s Grand National in April, 1998 and captured the totesport.com Becher Chase that November.
The totesport.com Becher Chase is the highlight on day two of the Northwest Racing Masters, when Aintree stages a thrilling seven-race card that also features the £60,000 totesuper7 Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (12.35pm) over an extended two miles and five furlongs of the world famous Grand National course.
Fondly known as Becher Chase Day, there will be a festive theme to proceedings with Santa Claus and his real-life reindeer on hand to meet children aged under 16, who gain FREE ENTRY to the course if accompanied by an adult. There will be plenty of Christmas shopping opportunities at the course and live Christmas music to provide winter cheer and get racegoers in the Christmas mood.
Coverage of the day’s racing will be shown live on the BBC. Clare Balding will anchor the show and will be joined by Rishi Persad, Grand National-winning jockey Mick Fitzgerald and star commentator Jim McGrath. Three races will be broadcast: totesuper7 Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (12.35pm), the Bet On Live Football At totesport.com Handicap Hurdle (1.10pm) and the totesport.com Becher Chase (1.45pm).
Day one of the North West Racing Masters takes place at Haydock Park when the highlight of a superb seven-race card is the season’s first Grade One contest, the £200,000 Betfair Chase (3.25pm) over three miles, which has attracted a sensational entry that includes each of the last three Cheltenham Gold Cup winners - Kauto Star, Denman and Imperial Commander.
Full ticket details for the weekend’s racing are available at www.aintree.co.uk.
New for 2010, Platinum County Lounge Tickets, costing only £25, will be available to purchase for Aintree’s autumn and winter race days. These tickets include access to the exclusive Platinum County Lounge with County Grandstand seats, a complimentary race card and vouchers for discounted champagne. Offer applies only to those aged 21 or over.
For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink