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Monday, December 20, 2004



14 ENTRIES FOR skybet.com ROWLAND MEYRICK CHASE




There are a total of 14 entries for the highlight of the first day of Wetherby's two-day Sky Bet Christmas Meeting, the £50,000 skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase on Boxing Day, December 26.

An excellent race looks in prospect with some very decent staying chasers among the entries, including last year's winner Gunner Welburn, the 2003 totesport Cheltenham Gold runner-up Truckers Tavern, recently confirmed as a definite runner by Middleham-based trainer Ferdy Murphy, while Bingley trainer Sue Smith could run Royal Emperor, one of last season's leading novice chasers.

Royal Emperor has run twice this season, finishing third behind Grey Abbey in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on October 30 and eighth to Stormez in a Grade Three Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on his latest outing on November 13.
The trainer's husband Harvey said today: "We've got to have a look at the race, see what's in there and what's going on - he still only a novice horse really.

"I haven't been disappointed with his two runs this year - the problem is that he is too high in the handicap. The handicapper won't let him go in the races he should be in, that's the problem. He's only won two novice chases and seems to be handicapped out of everything - he's a long way wrong."
An intriguing contender is Murphy's Cardinal, trained by the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winning trainer Noel Chance. The Lambourn-based handler has made no secret of the high-regard in which he holds the eight-year-old, who won his first six starts before finishing a close fourth behind Colonel Frank, Calling Brave and Lord Sam in the Future Stars Chase at Sandown on December 3.

Murphy's Cardinal is also engaged in the King George VI Chase at Kempton but Chance revealed today that Wetherby is the more likely option: "Murphy's Cardinal is more likely to go to Wetherby for the skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Chase than to Kempton. The only way he would go to Kempton would be if the heavens opened, which is not forecast to happen.

"He has done well since Sandown. I need to get another race into him now and a £50,000 chase at Wetherby, which is a good track, fits the bill perfectly."
Other entries include the 2002 Scottish National winner Ryalux, Howard Johnson's exciting young chaser Lord Transcend, Peter Bowen's tough performer Take The Stand, successful in the Summer National at Uttoxeter earlier this season, and the improving Cruise Leader, trained by Chris Grant and an impressive winner of the totesport.com Handicap Chase at Wetherby on November 13. In all, Cruise Leader has won three times at Wetherby and a return visit to the "A1 course" could be on the cards.
Cleveland-based Grant explained today: "Cruise Leader is a possible runner in the skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at this stage.

"We are going to enter him in some other races later in the week and then we will have a look and take it from there.

"He's in grand order and certainly likes Wetherby."
Completing the entries are Be My Royal, first past-the-post in the 2003 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury and an encouraging third on his return from injury over hurdles at Chepstow last month, Wain Mountain, Lord Jack, an easy winner at Kelso last time, Moss Harvey from the Norton yard of Malcolm Jefferson, The Villager and the Keith Reveley-trained Malek. Weights for the three mile, one furlong contest are published tomorrow.

The ground at the West Yorkshire venue is currently GOOD, GOOD TO SOFT IN PLACES (frozen).

Tim Betteridge, Wetherby's Chief Executive, reported today: "We are currently good, good to soft in places.

"We had a couple of fairly sharp frosts over the weekend. The forecast is for it to get milder during the week with the chance of some wintry showers."

SKY BET PRICES - Available from 9.30am tomorrow

9/4 Lord Transcend
7/2 Murphy's Cardinal
13/2 Lord Jack
7/1 Cruise Leader
10/1 Gunner Welburn
10/1 Take The Stand
12/1 Royal Emperor
12/1 Trucker's Tavern
16/1 Be My Royal
16/1 Wain Mountain
16/1 The Villager
16/1 Malek
25/1 Ryalux
25/1 Moss Harvey

Each-Way 1/4 the odds 1, 2, 3


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