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Monday, December 8, 2003



FONDMORT HEADS 22 HOPEFULS FOR SATURDAY'S TRIPLEPRINT GOLD CUP




Trainers Nicky Henderson and Nigel Twiston-Davies speak about Tripleprint Gold Cup plans as does owner JP McManus' racing manager Frank Berry

Cheltenham specialist Fondmort will be taken on again by Irish challenger Risk Accessor (10st 2lb) in Saturday's thrilling £100,000 Tripleprint Gold Cup (2.30pm) at Cheltenham.


Risk Accessor fell two out when still going well in last month's Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, which was won in good style by Fondmort.


They are both among 22 entries who have stood their ground at today's five-day stage for the Tripleprint Gold Cup.


Frank Berry, racing manager for owner J P McManus, today revealed that Risk Accessor will line-up in the Tripleprint Gold Cup, while a decision will be made later about other possibles, Kadoun and the Jonjo O'Neill-trained Master Tern.


"The definite runner in the Tripleprint Gold Cup at the moment is Risk Accessor," he said. "He's fine [after his fall], he's come out of the race well and he's in good form - Christy (Roche - trainer) is very happy with him.


"Kadoun and Master Tern are still possibles - they will work during the week to see how they are and then we will make plans after that."

Fondmort's trainer Nicky Henderson is still in two minds whether to go for the Tripleprint or take in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day instead.


He explained this afternoon: "Fondmort is probable starter in the Tripleprint but we are undecided as we are still looking at the King George.

"I will talk to Bill Brown (the horse's owner) and we have got to think long and hard about whether he has a realistic chance in the King George - at the moment it is 50-50 whether Fondmort runs at Cheltenham. He would not run in both races."

Henderson was more certain about the plans for his other Tripleprint Gold Cup contender, recent Ascot winner Iris Royal who has 10st 7lb.


"Iris Royal has to run at Cheltenham - everything is right for him and he is a definite runner on Saturday."

Fondmort, who has 11st 11lb in the very valuable two mile four and a half furlong handicap chase, put in an exquisite round of jumping at Prestbury Park in last month's Paddy Power Gold Cup to get the better of Poliantas by eight lengths, prompting the master of Seven Barrows to state: "It was the perfect round by the horse with the perfect jockey [Mick Fitzgerald] doing the job."

Should Fondmort secure Cheltenham's Autumn Double at the weekend, he will become only the third horse to capture this magnificent double in the same season, following on from Pegwell Bay in 1988 and Senor El Betrutti nine years later. He would also become the first horse to win the Tripleprint Gold Cup twice, having landed last year's renewal by six lengths from Foly Pleasant (11st 6lb).


Champion trainer Martin Pipe has three Tripleprint Gold Cup possibles, top-weight Seebald (11st 12lb), dual Paddy Power Gold Cup winner Cyfor Malta (11st 9lb) and It Takes Time (10st 12lb), who was going well when crumpling on landing at the second last in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.


Michael Chapman could run Paddy Power Gold Cup third Ei Ei (10st 5lb) and others that finished behind that horse and may go for revenge include Young Spartacus (10st 13lb) (fourth), Cyfor Malta (fifth), and Redemption (10st 7lb) (pulled up when his saddle slipped), who subsequently won the ladbrokes.com Handicap Chase at Newbury on November 29 by nine lengths from Claymore.


Redemption's trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said today: "Redemption is a definite runner on Saturday and in very good form. Carl Llewellyn will ride."

There are two other Irish hopes besides Risk Accessor, the Willie Mullins-trained Adamant Approach (11st 9lb) and Kadoun (10st 7lb), trained by Michael O'Brien.

The last-named pair ran with mixed fortunes in a Grade Three chase at Naas last month. Kadoun was the half-length winner from Rathgar Beau, while Adamant Approach was a disappointing last.


Rooster Booster heads the 12 entries in the £75,000 Tote Bula Hurdle (3.05pm), the feature hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.


Philip Hobbs has already confirmed that the nine-year-old will make his seasonal debut in this famous hurdle. Rooster Booster improved out throughout last season, racking up five victories including in the Bula Hurdle and the Smurfit Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.


Flame Creek is due to run in the Tote Bula Hurdle for Noel Chance, who believes that his charge has a better chance of winning at the highest level over timber rather than over fences, despite having won his first three starts over the bigger obstacles.


The French Furze gained a popular victory for Nicky Richards in the Pertemps "Fighting Fifth" Hurdle at Newcastle on November 29, proving three-quarters of a length too powerful for Geos, while owner J P McManus could be represented by Specular, an intriguing prospect from Australia where he has had plenty of success over timber.


Speaking of Specular, Frank Berry said today: "I'm a bit in the dark about him - he was bought privately and it's his first run for us. Jonjo [trainer O'Neill] seems pleased with him at the moment. I couldn't tell you an awful lot but he's in good form and he had good form in Australia.


"How good that form is I don't know but I'd say he was considered one of the top hurdlers there - we're looking forward to seeing him run on Saturday and it will just be interesting to see how he gets on."

The £50,000 Doncaster Bloodstock Sales Future Champions Novices' Chase (1.55pm) has attracted 14 future stars including the Oliver Sherwood-trained Rodalko, who is arguably unlucky not to be unbeaten this term having won two of his three starts and tipping up when eight lengths clear four out in a novices' chase at Kempton last month, and Grattan Lodge, trained by Howard Johnson, the winner of his last four starts over hurdles.


The £30,000 Tripleprint Novices' Hurdle (3.40pm) could see 14 top prospects in action. Champagne Harry was five lengths too strong for Comply Or Die in a Grade Two heat at Chepstow in November, while Cornish Rebel made the prefect start to his hurdling career winning a novices' hurdle at the same course on November 26, by 10 lengths from Unlocked.


Champagne Harry's handler Nigel Twiston Davies was in bullish mood today: "He will like the course and the distance and he will win!"

Mondul and Trouble At Bay are among the 19 possibles for the opening £17,500-added Tripleprint Juvenile Novices' Hurdle (12.10pm). The former, Listed class on the Flat in Germany and only bought by new connections last week, justified favouritism at Warwick on Saturday, while Trouble At Bay could represent the in-form team of Alan King, having won on his last two starts at Hereford and Wincanton. The £22,000-added Jenny Mould Memorial Handicap Chase has received 14 entries.

Friday's six-race programme features the £40,000 Tripleprint Handicap Chase (2.20pm), over an extended three miles and a furlong, which has attracted 21 high-class chasers.


Dual Paddy Power Gold Cup hero Cyfor Malta could be asked to carry top-weight of 11st 12lb in this competitive heat as he stayed on well in this year's renewal of the Paddy Power Gold Cup and owner David Johnson believes that this longer trip may suit him now. He also holds an entry in Saturday's Tripleprint Gold Cup.


Robert Alner has stated that he wants to run Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup hopeful Kingscliff (11st 2lb) as soon as possible as last year's Christie's Foxhunter Chase winner is apparently in rude health following his facile success in a handicap chase at Ascot last month, while other chasing stars who could line up in the Tripleprint Handicap Chase include Commanche Court (11st 12lb), Marlborough (11st 9lb), Swansea Bay (11st 8lb), Ad Hoc (11st 6lb) and Lord Noelie (11st 1lb).


The £25,000-added C.F.R. Group Electrical Services Handicap Hurdle (1.10pm), over an extended two miles, has received 27 entries including the Martin Pipe-trained Visibility, the top-weight with 11st 12lb. The four-year-old landed a gamble on the first day of November at Ascot by three and a half lengths from Shalako.


Visibility will not have things all his own way as other recent winners who could take their chance include Perouse (10st 13lb), Pirandello (10st 12lb), Liberty Seeker (10st 11lb), who is unbeaten in two starts, Nick's Choice (10st 5lb) and Cosmocrat (10st 2lb).


Friday's other events include the opening £20,000-added Ian Williams' Owners Novices' Chase (12.35pm) (17 entries) the £18,000-added Pertemps Handicap Hurdle (2.55pm) (26 entries), the £15,000-added Club 16-24 Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Chase (1.45pm) (26 entries) and the concluding £15,000-added European Breeders Fund National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle (3.25pm), with 30 entries.


Admission prices for the Tripleprint Meeting are Club & Tattersalls combines £18 and 16-24 year-olds £10. The Courage Enclosure is currently closed. Parking is free. The first race is at 12.35pm on Friday, December 12 and at 12.10pm on Saturday, December 13.




FESTIVE ACTION AT DONCASTER




Doncaster's traditional two-day December Meeting over Jumps on Friday and Saturday (12 & 13 December), includes plenty of festive fare for racegoers.


Friday's programme, scheduled to begin at 12.250 p.m. features The ‘Holly' Handicap Chase over the extended two miles, along with The ‘Jingle Bells' Novices' Chase (three miles).


Saturday's longest race, The Worthington's Creamflow Neville Crump Memorial Handicap Chase over three and a quarter miles could attract several Grand National possibles. Last year's winner, Spendid went on to be placed in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr (the winner, Ryalux was runner-up in last January's Skybet.com Great Yorkshire Chase at Doncaster).


One of the great stalwarts of racing over Jumps, Captain Crump trained many big-race winners from his base at Warwick House in Middleham, North Yorkshire – including three Grand National winners – Sheila's Cottage (1948), Teal (1952) and Merryman II (1960). He was champion trainer twice in the 1950's and Saturday's renewal is the seventh running of this race for stayers held in his memory.


The Carling Extra Cold Sea Pigeon Handicap Hurdle over the extended two miles is also sponsored by Coors Brewers, and honours the dual champion hurdler of the early 80's, Sea Pigeon, who was trained at Malton by Peter Easterby.


The Custom Fittings Novices' Chase and The Vulrory's Clown Handicap Chase are both contested over two miles, three furlongs. The former race is supported by the Cleckheaton-based specialist manufacturers of stainless & tube fittings and adaptors, while the latter contest is named after the horse which won five races over Jumps on Town Moor, the first one being at this equivalent meeting 18 years ago.


Racing on Saturday begins with a new £20,000 Introductory Novices' Hurdle race over the extended two miles – a contest for novice hurdlers which have not run in more than one hurdle race. The giant ToteVision Screen will provide racegoers with an even better view of proceedings on both days, while Father Christmas will be on hand to distribute goodies, including a selection of toys. Christmas Carols will be sung by the Cusworth Singers in Victorian attire, while mince pies and mulled wine is available for racegoers. The supervised crèche facility is in use during the meeting in the Family Enclosure @ £1.80 per hour.


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