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Thursday, December 23, 2004



GEOS LIKELY TO RETURN TO WETHERBY FOR skybet.com CASTLEFORD CHASE




Nine declarations for £50,000 skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Chase

Geos, victorious in the 2002 skybet.com Castleford Chase at Wetherby, could return to the West Yorkshire track on Bank Holiday Monday, December 27 to try and land the £50,000 Grade Two contest for a second time.

The nine-year-old has been a tremendous performer in recent years. In addition to his Wetherby triumph, he also been equally effective over hurdles, winning the competitive totesport Gold Trophy at Newbury in both 2000 and 2004 as well as the Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2000.

This season, he has not been seen at his best and in two outings has finished eighth in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham and he occupied the same position on his latest start behind Baracouda in the Long Walk Hurdle at Windsor on December 18.

James Stafford, syndicate manager for owners Thurloe Finsbury, revealed today: "We are debating whether to run Geos in the skybet.com Castleford Chase this year. The weather is the main concern to us - we don't want to go all the way up to Wetherby if the meeting is looking in danger of being off.

"At the moment I would say he is a probable runner, although I need to discuss it with Nicky Henderson. I would say we are 60-40 in favour of going to Wetherby.

"We have been a little disappointed with him this season. I don't think he was at his best at Cheltenham and the pace of the race didn't suit him - it was a bit stop-start - he really needs a good end-to-end gallop, while I think it was probably a mistake to run him at Windsor.

"The skybet.com Castleford Chase is something we have had in mind for him this season, particularly as he won it in 2002. He definitely seems better going left-handed.

"He is quite a difficult horse to place. He's rising 10 and is still high in the handicap over hurdles. He's had some schooling over fences just to remind him they are a bit bigger!"

THRILLING skybet.com ROWLAND MEYRICK CHASE IN PROSPECT AFTER FINAL DECLARATION STAGE

The final declaration stage has taken place for the £50,000 skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day, December 26 and a cracking renewal of this famous contest is in prospect.

A high-quality field of nine is set to go to post, headed by Howard Johnson's exciting young chaser Lord Transcend and the Noel Chance-trained Murphy's Cardinal, winner of six of his seven races.

Also engaged are three-time Wetherby scorer Cruise Leader, the 2003 skybet.com Rowland Meyrick hero Gunner Welburn, last season's last season's Royal & SunAlliance Chase runner-up Royal Emperor, the 2003 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup second Truckers Tavern, the 2003 Scottish National hero Ryalux, Wain Mountain and Malek.


LATEST SKY BET PRICES FOR THE skybet.com ROWLAND MEYRICK CHASE

7/4 Lord Transcend
7/2 Murphy's Cardinal
13/2 Cruise Leader
7/1 Gunner Welburn
8/1 Royal Emperor
10/1 Truckers Tavern
14/1 Wain Mountain
16/1 Malek
18/1 Ryalux

Each-Way 1/5 the odds - 1, 2, 3

NON-RUNNER = NO BET

GOING

The going at Wetherby remains: GOOD, GOOD TO SOFT IN PLACES



BETFAIR SIGNS UP AS OFFICIAL BETTING PARTNER TO JOHN SMITH'S GRAND NATIONAL MEETING




Aintree Racecourse announced today that Betfair, the world's leading betting exchange, has signed a three-year deal to become the Official Betting Partner of John Smith's Grand National meeting, which attracts more than 600 million television viewers worldwide.


The exclusive partnership will include sponsorship of two races during the three-day meeting which runs from Thursday 7th to Saturday 9th April 2005. The Betfair Bowl, formerly The Martell Cup, will be the feature £150,000 contest on Thursday - a race over 3m 1f that regularly attracts the leading horses that have run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Betfair will also sponsor the penultimate race on Friday, the betfair.com Handicap Steeple Chase, also run over 3m 1f.


Betfair will have on-course branding for the three-day meeting, including a live in-running odds board positioned opposite the main grandstands. Betfair will also supply the official betting prices, which means that for the first time in its 166-year history, the official odds for the Grand National will be in decimals rather than fractions.


Charles Barnett, Aintree's Managing Director, said: "We are delighted to welcome Betfair as our first Official Partner at the Grand National meeting. Our agreement with John Smith's allows us to introduce additional partners to the event and we are excited by the opportunities that this will give us. Betfair has sponsored at Aintree for the past three years and we are pleased to be developing this relationship further."

Stephen Hill, Betfair's Chief Executive, said: "Betfair is delighted to be associated with the Grand National, the world's most famous race. Our sponsorship at Aintree reflects our long-term commitment to UK horseracing. In 2004 Betfair sponsored 141 races with prize money of over £1m. Betfair also contributes to the sport through the Levy (£3.9m in the year to April 30, 2004). Betfair's global reach means that we will continue to attract new international players, and thus additional revenue, to UK horseracing."


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