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Thursday, December 4, 2003


Tripleprint Meeting to be run on the Old Course

Cheltenham Racecourse regrets to announce that the Sporting Index Cross Country Chase, set to have taken place on Friday, December 12, has had to be abandoned.

Following on from the postponement of the Sporting Index Cross Country Chase at last month's Open Meeting, this unfortunately means that there will be no country races at Cheltenham during the 2003/04 season.

Since The Open, there has been just 50 millimetres of rain at Cheltenham Racecourse and this means that the going on the Cross Country Course is firm, hard in places. With only light rain forecast before the Tripleprint Meeting, there is no prospect of the going on that course improving significantly. The rainfall at Cheltenham over the past 12 months is 270 millimetres behind an average year.

There will be no substitute for the Sporting Index Cross Country Chase, with the December 12 programme now starting at 12.35pm and consisting of six rather than seven races.

A further consequence of the lack of rain is that all races at the Tripleprint Meeting will be run on the old course, rather than the new course as scheduled.

The going on the new course is good to firm, firm in places while the going on the old course is good, good to soft in places. This is due to the fact that the old course was watered extensively ahead of both the October and Open meetings.

With the Tripleprint Meeting being transferred to the old course, there will be some minor alterations in race distances. For example, the Tripleprint Gold Cup will now be run over 2m 4.5f rather than 2m 5f while the Tote Bula Hurdle will be 2m 0.5f rather than 2m 1f. A revised order of running for the Tripleprint Meeting can be found below.

Simon Claisse, Cheltenham's Clerk of the Course, commented: "It is very regrettable that the Sporting Index Cross Country has had to be abandoned and that there will be no cross country racing at Cheltenham this season. I would like to thank Sporting Index for their continued support and understanding during this time.

"We have moved the Tripleprint Meeting on to the old course in order to ensure that we have competitive action on the best possible going. The old course was watered extensively earlier this season and it is prudent to continue to race on this surface."


Friday & Saturday, December 12 & 13, 2003


First Day - Friday, December 12
Time Race Distance Prize Money
12-35pm The Ian Williams' Owners Novices' Chase 3m abt 1.5f £20,000 added
* 1-10pm The C.F.R. Group (Electrical Services) Showcase Handicap Hurdle 2m abt 0.5f £25,000 added
* 1-45pm The Club 16-24 Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Chase 2m 4.5f £15,000 added
* 2-20pm The Tripleprint Chase (Handicap) 3m abt 1.5f £40,000 guaranteed
* 2-55pm The Pertemps Handicap Hurdle (Qualifier) 3m 1.5f £18,000 added
* 3-25pm The European Breeders Fund National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle (Qualifier) 2m 0.5f £15,000 added
On the day £133,000

Second day - Saturday, December 13
Time Race Distance Prize Money
12-10pm The Tripleprint Juvenile Novices' Hurdle 2m abt 0.5f £17,500 added
12-50pm The Jet U.K. "Relkeel" Hurdle 2m abt 5f £20,000 added
1-25pm The Jenny Mould Memorial Handicap Chase Abt 2m £22,000 added
* 1-55pm The Doncaster Bloodstock Sales Future Champions Novices' Chase 2m abt 4.5f £50,000 guaranteed
* 2-30pm The Tripleprint Gold Cup (A Showcase Handicap Chase) 2m abt 4.5f £100,000 guaranteed
* 3-05pm The Tote Bula Hurdle 2m abt 0.5f £75,000 guaranteed
* 3-40pm The Tripleprint Novices' Hurdle 3m abt 1.5f £30,000 guaranteed
On the day £314,500

* Channel 4 Televised Races



Smurfit Champion Hurdle hero Rooster Booster is to make his seasonal debut in the £75,000 Tote Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday, December 13.

Before his memorable victory in this year's Smurfit Champion Hurdle, the nine-year-old was successful in this prestigious two mile one furlong contest last season, when getting the better of Landing Light by two and a half lengths.

His three other successes last term included the equivalent of the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham's Open Meeting, when easily beating his 10 rivals by at least nine lengths.

If Rooster Booster can win a second Tote Bula Hurdle, he will join the illustrious list of dual winners which includes Comedy Of Errors (1973 and 1974), Bird's Nest (1977, 1978 and 1980), Large Action (1994 and 1996) and Relkeel (1997, 1998 and 1999).

The Pertemps Fighting Fifth' Hurdle at Newcastle last month had been mentioned as a possible starting point for Rooster Booster, but a number of factors ruled him out of that event.

"The Tote Bula Hurdle is the plan for Rooster Booster," said the trainer. Philip Hobbs said today: "The ground was a bit too quick at Newcastle and also it was going to cause us jockey problems as we knew Richard [Johnson, regular rider] was going to be at Newbury. It didn't really suit the owner [Terry Warner] as well come to that so it was easier to wait for Cheltenham."

Before Rooster Booster won last year's Tote Bula Hurdle, he had already been successful twice - in the Greatwood Hurdle and a hurdle at Kempton (when successful off a rating of 151).

While a lot of trainers have been forced to delay the seasonal reappearance of their stable stars due to a lack of rain and unsuitable ground, Hobbs has been unable to run Rooster Booster due to his vast improvement during the last campaign.

"Rooster Booster is now rated 170 and there just aren't the options for him that there were last year - that's the only difference," he explained.

Despite Rooster Booster having risen almost a stone and a half in the ratings since the beginning of last season, Hobbs is cautiously optimistic that his charge may find further improvement during the 2003/2004 campaign.

He said: "Everything is possible - he improved enormously last year so we hope that he might have done again. But obviously he is getting older."

This is the first year that the Tote has sponsored the Tote Bula Hurdle, which is named after the great Bula, who won the equivalent event in 1972, the same year as his second successive victory in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle for trainer Fred Winter.

Noel Chance has already revealed that he intends to oppose Rooster Booster in the Tote Bula Hurdle with his stable star Flame Creek.

The programme on Saturday, December 13, the second and final day of the Tripleprint Meeting, also features the £100,000 Tripleprint Gold Cup, the second leg of Cheltenham's Autumn Double.

Admission prices for the Tripleprint Meeting are Club & Tattersalls £18 and 16-24 year-olds £10. The Courage Enclosure is currently closed. Parking is free. The first race is at 12.00pm on Friday, December 12 and at 12.10pm on Saturday, December 13.

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