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Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Nicholls to delay Azertyuiop decision until Thursday morning

The reigning Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Azertyuiop heads a magnificent entry of 18 for the £50,000 Grade Two skybet.com Castleford Chase over two miles at Wetherby on Bank Holiday Monday, December 27.

Azertyuiop's trainer Paul Nicholls is still undecided whether or not his charge will take his chance at Wetherby or in the King George VI Chase at Kempton 24 hours earlier. The Ditcheat handler also has Kadarann, winner of this race in 2003, the consistent Cenkos and Armaturk, twice a winner already this season, engaged.

Nicholls explained today: "Obviously, Azertyuiop is entered in both the King George VI and the skybet.com Castleford Chase at Wetherby.

"I won't be making any decision as to where he goes until Thursday morning - I might even have to declare him for both races because of the weather situation.

"I also have the other three entered in the skybet.com Castleford Chase so that is something I also have to take into account."

Another leading contender is the Martin Pipe-trained Well Chief, last season's Arkle Trophy winner and recently a close third behind Moscow Flyer and Azertyuiop in the Tingle Creek Trophy at Sandown. He could be joined by stable companion Golden Alpha, a Listed winner over fences at Aintree in 2003.

Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson is also doubly represented at this stage with the smart chaser/hurdler Geos, twice triumphant in the totesport Gold Trophy at Newbury as well as the 2002 skybet.com Castleford Chase, and Caracciola, who showed decent form in novice company when twice a winner over fences last season.

The talented Mister McGoldrick was recently confirmed a likely starter by Bingley-based trainer Sue Smith and looks to hold a decent chance of keeping the prize in Yorkshire, having landed the "Dine & View" Handicap Chase at Wetherby on October 30 while he also finished third behind Well Chief in a Grade One contest at Aintree in April. He ran a good race to finish third under top weight in the competitive Sea Pigeon Handicap Hurdle at Doncaster on Saturday, December 18.

There is one entry from Ireland in the shape of Native Scout, fourth to Rathgar Beau in the Grade Two Hilly Way Chase at Cork on December 12 on his latest start while Germany's Christian Von Der Recke could send over Water Quirl, successful over fences in a novice chase at Warwick in November, 2003.

Latalomne, currently trained by Malton handler Noel Wilson, fell at the second last when travelling well in both the 2002 and 2003 Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham and showed some signs of a return to form when second at Cheltenham last time.

Completing the entries are Venetia Williams' Bleu Superbe, Deep Water from the Leyburn yard of Micky Hammond, Enzo de Baume, Mark Rimell's improving performer Oneway, successful on his last three starts including at Wetherby on November 24, Sir Storm and No Need For Alarm.

This year's skybet.com Castleford Chase forms part of the British Horseracing Board's exciting new Order of Merit Series, which awards points to the best chasers and hurdlers throughout the season with a total of £300,000 in bonuses up for grabs.

Sponsor Sky Bet is planning to open a book on the Castleford Chase after the final declarations are made on the morning of Thursday, December 23, when it should become clearer whether Azertyuiop is likely to be lining up.


Aintree Racecourse announced today plans for its membership group, The Grand National Racing Club.

The aim is to purchase a horse to run in The 2005 John Smith's Grand National on Saturday, April 9. The 2005 renewal of the world's greatest steeplechase will carry total prize money of £700,000 and will be watched by an audience of 600 million people around the world.

The new ownership group, looking to buy a quality horse in January, will consist of 100 shares and the cost of membership is a one-off payment of £1,000 per share. The £100,000 raised will enable the Club to buy a top staying chaser as well as covering all the training fees and racing expenses for 2005.

Membership of the Grand National Racing Club will not only give people a 1% share in the horse but will also allow access to a confidential telephone line with all the latest news about running plans and Club activities. These will include stable visits and social events, a regular newsletter and reduced admission to Aintree's eight race days in 2005.

The horse will race for the Club for a 12-month period from early next year and will also be aimed at the totesport Becher Chase over the Grand National fences in November as well as the John Smith's Grand National.

At the end of the year, every member will receive a share of all the prize money won and of the horse's sale price or valuation.

Shares will be allocated on a first come first served basis and a brochure/application form is available from Aintree Racecourse, Aintree, Liverpool L9 5AS (0151 523 2600) or via e-mail at aintree@rht.net.


Christmas starts early at Lingfield Park Racecourse on Wednesday 22nd December, when all ladies and children will be welcome FREE of charge.

Santa will be visiting the course during the racing with his sleigh and snow ponies to hand out early Christmas presents to children.

For the third consecutive year, our very own Father Christmas and friendly bookie Barry Dennis, with his team of Santa's helpers', is generously giving away thousands of quality Christmas puddings.

Everyone who attends his favourite Christmas race meeting at Lingfield Park on Wednesday 22nd December will get a free Christmas Pudd' courtesy of Barry.

The Smirnoff Ice Rink at Lingfield Park will be open for business as usual on Wednesday, and continues to be open on racedays and non racedays, evenings and weekends until 5th January 2005.

Mulled wine and Christmas fayre will be available, and there is still some limited space for lunch bookings in December in the restaurants and private suites overlooking the racecourse.

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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