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Wednesday, December 22, 2004


The £50,000 skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase is shaping up into a most exciting contest with both last year's winner Gunner Welburn and the 2003 Scottish National winner Ryalux today confirmed as definite starters at Wetherby on Boxing Day, December 26.

Last season, Gunner Welburn came home fourth lengths clear of Skippers Cleuch in the three mile and one furlong handicap chase and is set to defend his title this year.

Trainer Andrew Balding reported today: "I am very happy with Gunner Welburn and he's ready to run. If the racing goes ahead at Wetherby, he will be there."

The talented 12-year-old has run twice this year, finishing fifth in the Edward Hanmer Chase at Haydock on November 14 before taking third spot behind One Knight in the Rehearsal Chase at Chepstow.

Ryalux is on the comeback trail, having last run at Haydock in the December of 2003 when finishing fifth to Keen Leader in the Tommy Whittle Chase. His greatest day came at Ayr in April, 2003, when he denied Stormez by a neck to land the Scottish Grand National.

Trainer Andy Crook said today: "Ryalux will definitely go to Wetherby for the skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Chase."

The Leyburn trainer added that he is hoping for a decent run in what will be the 11-year-old's first outing for over a year:

"This run will tell us how he is and I hope he comes out of the race OK. I think I have him fit and well but, as horses get older, they always take that one race to put them spot on.

"He will be better for this run, no doubt about it, but I am still expecting a good run from him.

"I have had a few niggling problems with getting him ready. I would ideally have liked to give him a prep race at Kelso about three weeks ago but he unfortunately put his pelvis out just before and so that put a block to that.

"It has not been the ideal preparation as I wanted to run him before and have him 100% for the skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Chase. It is a race I have been very unlucky in previously - Heidi III was second to Behrajan in 2001 while in 2002 I was planning to run Ryalux but the meeting was abandoned while last season I was again going to run Rylie' but he got some heat in his leg just beforehand. Hopefully, the weather will be fair and we'll get there this year!

"Richard McGrath will hopefully ride him - he came and schooled him on Saturday and they went well. Ryalux's long-term aim will be the Scottish National once again."


Peter Beaumont, based at Brandsby in North Yorkshire, is planning to run his exciting novice Flight Command at Wetherby's Sky Bet Christmas Meeting.

The six-year-old Gunner B gelding got off the mark over fences at Bangor on December 15, having previously finished runner-up to Tribal Venture in the Harry Atkinson Memorial Beginners' Chase at Wetherby on November 24.

Beaumont said: "I am hopefully going to run Flight Command at Wetherby over Christmas.

"He is likely to run in the Sky Vegas Live on Channel 295 Novices' Chase on the Sunday while Moor Spirit will go for the Sky Bet Tony Dickinson Novices' Handicap Chase on the Monday.

"He seems to have come out of his Bangor race well. I hope he can develop into a nice horse but the handicapper seems to have clobbered him with weight - he went up 12lb for his Bangor win which seems a bit unreasonable to me.

"I don't really have any long-term plans for him this season - we will just play along and take it race-by-race."


The ground at Wetherby is currently GOOD, GOOD TO SOFT IN PLACES.

Tim Betteridge, Wetherby's Chief Executive, reported: "The temperature has risen to 12 degrees today and all the frost has come out of the ground.

"The weather has been breezy, overcast and dull today. The ground would have been perfectly raceable."


2/1 (from 9/4) Lord Transcend
7/2 Murphy's Cardinal
7/1 Cruise Leader
8/1 (from 13/2) Lord Jack
8 (from 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
20/1 (from 25/1) Ryalux
25/1 Moss Harvey

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


10.30am - Timmy Murphy

The Disciplinary Panel of the Jockey Club, on 23rd December 2004, will consider an appeal lodged by Timmy Murphy, the rider of SEMI PRECIOUS (IRE), against the decision of the Plumpton Stewards on 13th December to find him in breach of Rule 153 of the Rules of Racing in respect of Improper riding in that following its fall, he had attempted to strike his horse with his whip when it got to its feet in the Coral Casino Handicap Steeple Chase and to suspend him from riding for seven days.

The Panel for tomorrow's appeal will be: Andrew Merriam (Chairman), Lord Rathcreedan and Stephen Allday.

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

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