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Tuesday, December 7, 2004


Alan King today revealed that he hopes to have a number of runners at Cheltenham on Saturday (December 11) including Massac, who will line up in the feature £110,000 Grade Three bonusprint.com Gold Cup (2.40pm), the prestigious handicap chase over two miles and five furlongs, or the £22,000-added Jenny Mould Memorial Handicap Chase (12.55pm) over an extended two miles.

Massac has won all three chases that he has competed in this season including the Life From Coloroll Chase over two and a half miles at Windsor on November 20, when he kept on gamely to deny Mondial Jack by half a length.

The Barbury Castle trainer said: "To be honest I haven't come to a decision as to whether Massac will run in the bonusprint.com Gold Cup or the Jenny Mould Memorial Handicap Chase although he will most definitely go to Cheltenham.

"I'm looking forward to running him but I just don't know which one yet. He's come out of Windsor in very good form and he's due to work tomorrow but we couldn't be happier with him at the moment."

The five-year-old has gone up sharply in the ratings for his last two victories. Massac won a handicap chase over two miles, four and a half furlongs at Huntingdon on November 9. when getting the better of The Extra Man by 25 lengths. He raced off a mark of 130 then and was subsequently put up to 145 after his Windsor victory.

"The handicapper dropped Massac to 144 last week but I've no idea whether he can keep defying these rises in the weights," said King.

"I'm not sure which going Massac prefers although I think he's the sort of horse who would probably handle most and it doesn't matter too much. The one thing he probably wouldn't want is quick ground but we don't have to worry about that this weekend.

"I don't think he'll get three miles - I don't know what his optimum is but it's probably a very stiff two miles which is why we might run him in the Jenny Mould Memorial Handicap Chase. I don't think he'd want to go much further than two miles and five furlongs around Cheltenham."

Jackson would step up in trip and class if contesting the concluding £35,000 Grade Two Brit Insurance Novices' Hurdle (3.45pm) over three miles on Saturday. This contest is the first in an integrated seasonal package in the National Hunt calendar comprising four 3-mile Grade 2 Novices' Hurdle, each backed by first-time racing sponsors, Brit Insurance, a UK-based international general insurance, reinsurance and investment group. The series culminates in a new race at next year's four day Cheltenham Festival, the £75,000 Grade Two Brit Insurance Novices' Hurdle on totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup day (Friday, March 18). The remaining two races in the series are at Doncaster on January 29 and at Haydock Park on February 19.

The seven-year-old was last seen in action when beaten just over a length and a quarter into third by Patches in a two mile, six furlong novices' hurdle at Wincanton last month on his debut for King.

The trainer said: "Again I'll see how Jackson works and I'll have a look at the race but he might well run in the Brit Insurance Novices' Hurdle.

"He was a little bit unlucky at Wincanton but I was delighted with his run and the first two have come out and won since.

"I'd like to think that he would improve for the run and, whether he's improved enough to be competitive on Saturday, time will tell but he's a horse that we haven't had long and I like him very much and we might well get brave and take our chance."

Trouble At Bay is a possible for the £20,000-added Relkeel Hurdle (1.30pm) over an extended two miles and five furlongs, having finished just over five and a quarter lengths behind Monet's Garden, whom trainer Nicky Richards has already confirmed as a likely runner in the race, in the two mile four furlong Coloroll Hurdle at Windsor last month.

King continued: "It looked as if Trouble At Bay didn't get the trip at Windsor but I'm going to try again and find out once and for all.

"The plan is to let him take his chance in the Relkeel Hurdle and then we can hopefully map out a plan after Saturday."

The trainer may also be represented in the opening £17,500 Mr Crumb Premium Stuffings Juvenile Novices' Hurdle (12.20pm) over two miles one furlong in which he has two of the 16 entries. The title for this race has come about after Irish-based Mr Crumb Premium Stuffings saw off more than 30 rivals to win the sponsorship in a competition, organised by Cheltenham racecourse, among small to medium-sized businesses in Ireland.

"I might well run Adjami or Daryal in the Mr Crumb Premium Stuffings Juvenile Novices' Hurdle but I'm not sure which one yet," he explained.

Adjami is an unraced son of Entrepreneur, while Daryal would be making his jumping bow, having previously been trained on the Flat in France by Alain De Royer-Dupre.

"They are both French imports and I suppose that we've had them now for about two months. They've done everything that we've asked of them so far. They're due to work tomorrow and then school after that and, if it goes according to plan, we'll probably let one of them take their chance," he added.

Simon Claisse, Cheltenham's Clerk of the Course, said this morning: "The going remains currently Good on the chase and hurdle courses and Good, Good to Soft in Places on the cross-country course.

"On the basis of the current forecast, which is for a dull, cloudy week with very little rain, minimal change is expected before the weekend."

The bonusprint.com Gold Cup and the totesport Bula Hurdle form part of the British Horseracing Board's Order of Merit series, which awards points in the top 63 races this season and a £200,000 prize for the top horse.

Admission prices for both days of the December meeting, on Friday & Saturday, December 10 & 11, are Club/Tattersalls: £20, 16-24s: £12; Best Mate Enclosure: £6; Rooster Booster Raceday Package: £44 and Best Mate Raceday Package: £22.


The Doncaster Bloodstock Sales (DBS) National Hunt Breeze-Up Sale Cheltenham Racecourse on the eve of the bonusprint.com Gold Cup, Friday, December 10. This is the first sale of its kind to be held at Cheltenham racecourse.

A total of 75 three and four-year-old National Hunt store horses have been catalogued and all lots will work over four furlongs on the all-weather strip adjacent to the racecourse home straight between 10.30am and 11.30am on Friday. They have already started arriving at the course.

The opening race on Friday's card is named the DBS Buy At Tonight's NH Breeze-Up Sales EBF Novices Hurdle (12 noon) to highlight the event.

Racing is due to finish at 3.30pm and there will be a two-hour inspection period before the sale takes place at 5.30pm in The Centaur, Cheltenham racecourse's impressive new auditorium.

All lots will be sold with a pre-sales veterinary certificate and a video recording of each lot's morning work will be shown on a big screen in the sales arena as the horse is sold, giving buyers a unique way of buying at auction.

Dinner will immediately follow the sale and features a preview of the bonusprint.com Gold Cup and totesport Bula Hurdle, which both take place the following day, Saturday, December 11.

Commenting on the prospects of the sale, DBS managing director Henry Beeby said: "We have always felt that a National Hunt Breeze-Up should work and can think of no better place than the home of National Hunt racing to re-launch this concept.

"We have been in discussions with Cheltenham Racecourse for over 18 months and simply had to wait for The Centaur to be completed before kicking on.

"This is a unique concept and we are delighted with the superb response we have received from vendors which means we have produced a catalogue of the highest quality which we are sure will be well received by owners and trainers, who will be at Cheltenham for one of the season's leading meetings."

Catalogues for DBS National Hunt Breeze-Up at Cheltenham are available on line at www.dbsauctions.com while tables for the sale and dinner can be reserved by contacting Jeremy Mactaggart at DBS on 01450 372222 or 07785 348095.


Star Prize, the horse won by Robert Green of Wincanton in a nationwide draw sponsored by SIS earlier this year, was presented to the racing world by trainer Nicky Henderson at his Lambourn stables today.

The draw raised thousands of pounds for the British Red Cross Queen Mother Memorial Fund, specifically to enhance its International Tracing and Message Service, which helps to re-unite families separated by conflict. This was a cause particularly close to the Queen Mother's heart, as during the First World War she was able to contact her brother, who was being held prisoner of war, via this service.

The winning ticket in the draw was pulled out of the drum at Sandown Park on 12 March. Mr Green will be the registered owner of Star Prize during this National Hunt season, and the horse will run in Mr Green's colours. Mr Green will keep the owner's share of any prize money won by Star Prize, and is likely to attract public interest for being the owner of the SIS/Queen Mother Memorial Fund "Horse of the Year".

SIS Chief Executive David Holdgate said he was pleased with the results of the draw, and with the funds that had been raised for the Queen Mother Memorial Fund.

"We at SIS were delighted to sponsor this competition, and to give our strong support to the International Tracing and Message service. International communications are at the heart of our business, so we are proud to have helped to train more field operators, and to enable new technology to be used in the world's conflict zones, by the British Red Cross. We thank Nicky Henderson for his support, and wish Star Prize and Robert Green every success during the coming campaign," he added.

Nicky Henderson commented that he was pleased with the horse's progress to date, and that Star Prize would be entered in a suitable novice hurdle very soon.

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