Thursday, December 9, 2004
EXCELLENT FIELD FOR SATURDAY'S bonusprint.com GOLD CUP AT CHELTENHAM
An excellent renewal of the bonusprint.com Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday is in prospect with 13 horses standing their ground at today's 48-hour declaration stage.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Armaturk heads the field for the £110,000 contest and has won on both his starts this season, with his most recent victory coming at Cheltenham on November 12 when he was successful by a head from Well Chief in the Beards Jewellers Cup Handicap Chase over two miles.
He is joined by his stable companion Thisthatandtother, runner-up on his seasonal debut in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, the feature race of The Open at Cheltenham on November 13.
Nicky Henderson is seeking his third consecutive success in the Grade Three bonusprint.com Gold Cup, having won the prestigious handicap chase over two miles and five furlongs in 2002 with Fondmort, the choice of his stable jockey Mick Fitzgerald this time around, and Iris Royal 12 months ago.
In addition to Fondmort, the Seven Barrows handler also runs Scots Grey, who will be making his seasonal debut but has been well supported in the ante-post market this week.
Henry Ponsonby, who heads the syndicate which owns Scots Grey, is looking forward to the nine-year-old running on Saturday and is unconcerned that Andrew Tinkler will be taking the mount rather than Fitzgerald.
Ponsonby revealed: "Scots Grey is in great form. We are very confident that he will run a big race and, hopefully, give Nicky a hat-trick in the bonusprint.com Gold Cup.
"It is insignificant that Mick Fitzgerald is not riding him because, as he said in the Racing Post today, he cannot split our horse and Fondmort.
"Andrew rode him in the 2003 Mildmay of Flete when he finished third to Fondmort even though "Scotty" was still only a novice at the time, so I'm delighted with the jockey bookings.
"The horse has won first time out for the past three years - three years ago over hurdles at Ludlow, two years ago he beat Ballycassidy to win his first chase Huntingdon and last year we thought he was only half-fit when he beat Hand Inn Hand at Kempton - he blew up three times! So, he does go very well first time and has been schooling very well at home."
"I think he is a better horse this year and he has a lovely racing weight. The good ground is superb for him - he doesn't want it soft."
Scots Grey also holds an entry for the King George VI Chase at Kempton over Christmas but Ponsonby wants to get Saturday out of the way first.
"The King George entry is a backstop if we win by 10 lengths on Saturday! If he did do that, we would be kicking ourselves if he wasn't entered at Kempton as there might only be six or seven runners. There are two other nice races for him over Christmas and the New Year, while his long-term target is the Racing Post Chase at Kempton in February. That was his target last year before he was injured."
Martin Pipe's two successes in the bonusprint.com Gold Cup have come with Northern Starlight six years ago and Fragrant Dawn in 1993 and the champion trainer has two challengers in 2004, headed by Our Vic, one of last season's leading novices who was last seen out when finishing third in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. He was due to make his reappearance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, for which he was ante-post favourite but had to miss that contest after a small training setback.
He is joined by Redemption, who will be having his first run for the Nicholashayne handler, having previously been trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies. Redemption was going well when falling two out in last year's bonusprint.com Gold Cup.
Another trainer doubly represented is Minehead-based Philip Hobbs, who runs Farmer Jack, a faller in the Paddy Power Gold Cup but currently joint-second behind Azertyuiop in the British Horseracing Board's Order of Merit, of which the bonusprint.com Gold Cup forms a part, and Monkerhostin, winner of the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle at last season's Cheltenham Festival and third on his most recent start over fences behind Celestial Gold in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
Ireland, last successful in 2000 with Go Roger Go, is represented by the Willie Mullins-trained Mossy Green, who was bang in contention when falling two out in last season's Royal & SunAlliance Chase and won over hurdles at Fairyhouse on November 27.
The field is completed by Tikram, last season's Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup Handicap Chase winner, Massac who completed a hat-trick in the valuable Life From Coloroll Handicap chase at Windsor on November 20, Impek, runner-up in the 2003 Irish Independent Arkle Trophy at The Festival, and Europa from the Ferdy Murphy stable and a winner on his penultimate start at Kempton.
The going at Cheltenham remains GOOD on the chase and hurdles courses and GOOD, GOOD TO SOFT IN PLACES on the Cross Country Course and is expected to stay that way ahead of the two-day December Meeting.
Simon Claisse, Cheltenham's Clerk of the Course, commented: "I am absolutely delighted with the field for the bonusprint.com Gold Cup.
"It has both quality and quantity and we look set for a cracking race, keeping up the momentum of what was a very successful Paddy Power Gold Cup."
EXCELLENT FRIDAY CARD IN PROSPECT
Tomorrow is the first day of Cheltenham's December Meeting and racegoers will see some thrilling racing.
The feature race of the day is the £50,000 Mears Group Handicap Chase (2.55pm) over an extended three miles, one furlong which has attracted an excellent field of 12.
Heading the weights is Royal Auclair, an excellent third in the Hennessy Gold Cup last time, while Martin Pipe runs both Therealbandit, a leading novice last year who will be bidding to bounce back after a disappointing effort on his seasonal debut, and Puntal, last year's betfred Gold Cup hero.
Other contenders include Ballybough Rasher, not seen out since winning the 2003 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, the 2000 Royal & SunAlliance Chase winner Lord Noelie, Joly Bey from the Nick Gifford stable who is ridden by his owner David Dunsdon, Nigel Twiston-Davies' exciting novice Baron Windrush and Frenchman's Creek, the 2002 William Hill National Hunt Handicap Chase winner at Cheltenham, who will attempt to redeem his reputation after a disappointing effort in the Hennessy Gold Cup.
Ten runners go to post in the opening DBS Buy At Tonight's Breeze-Up Sales EBF "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle (12.00pm), which highlights the breeze-up sale for store horses to be held in the Centaur after racing tomorrow.
In the Ian Williams' Owners Novices' Chase (12.35pm), four horses line up including Paul Nicholls' Cornish Rebel, a full-brother to triple totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate and successful on his sole chase start to date in a Grade Two contest at Newbury last month.
The Pertemps Handicap Hurdle (1.10pm), a qualifier for the final at The Festival in March, has 17 declarations. Included among them is The Dark Lord from the Lucy Wadham stable and successful twice already at Cheltenham this season in the Thwaites Smooth Beer Handicap Hurdle on October 26 and in the Listed Lombard Properties Handicap Hurdle at the Open Meeting on November 14, as well as Martin Pipe's Team Tassel, who has won both his starts over hurdles including the paddypowercasino Intermediate Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on November 14.
Spot Thedifference heads the 10 runners for the Sporting Index Handicap Chase (1.45pm) over the cross-county course and will be attempting to follow up on his success over course and distance in the Sporting Index Chase on November 12. He is due to meet both Star Performance and Luzcadou, second and third in that race, again.
Race five is the very competitive 13-runner C.F.R. Group (Electrical Services) Handicap Hurdle (2.20pm) and, bringing the action to a close, is the Institute of Directors Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Chase (3.30pm), which also has 13 starters.
Admission prices for both days of the bonusprint.com meeting are Club/Tattersalls: £20; 16-24s: £12; Best Mate: £6;
For further information, please contact Peter McNeile, Cheltenham's Commercial Manager, on 01242 537600 or on his mobile 07850 091523
THE bonusprint.com GOLD CUP
Class A, Grade Three, £110,000 Total Prize Fund, 2.40pm, Cheltenham, Saturday, December 11, 2004, 2m 5f (New Course). For 5yo & upwards. Penalties: after November 27, a winner of a Class C steeple chase 4lb; of a Class A or B steeple chase 6lb. No penalty to increase a horse's weight above 11st 12lb. Entries closed November 24 (44 entries), weights released December 1, five-day entry stage Monday, December 6 (23 remained), final declaration stage 10.00am December 10 (13 declared). Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including Wednesday, December 8.
Form Horse Age/Wgt Owner Trainer/Jockey
1) 2624-11 ARMATURK (FR) 7-11-12 Barry Marshall Paul Nicholls/Christian Williams
2) 4534F-0 FONDMORT (FR) 8-11-11 Bill Brown Nicky Henderson/Mick Fitzgerald
3) 100-1F2 FARMER JACK 8-11-09 Peter Partridge Philip Hobbs/Paul Flynn
4) 5U232-4 IMPEK (FR) 8-11-07 Jim Lewis Henrietta Knight/Tony Dobbin
5) 21F22-2 THISTHATANDTOTHER (IRE) 8-11-05 Graham Roach Paul Nicholls/Ruby Walsh
6) 11/2113- OUR VIC (IRE) 6-11-03 David Johnson Martin Pipe/Timmy Murphy
7) 223-111 MASSAC (FR) 5-10-12 Million in Mind Partnership Alan King/Robert Thornton
8) 14112-0 TIKRAM 7-10-11 Mike Charlton & Rodger Sargent Gary Moore/Jamie Moore
9) U5003-0 REDEMPTION 9-10-10 John Duggan & Michael Purtill Martin Pipe Carl Llewellyn
10) 133F/1F- SCOTS GREY 9-10-09 Henry Ponsonby Nicky Henderson/Andrew Tinkler (3)
11) 42FF-251 MOSSY GREEN (IRE) 10-10-08 Greenstar Syndicate Wilie Mullins IRE/Barry Geraghty
12) 3P0-0P13 EUROPA 8-10-03 Trevor Hemmings Ferdy Murphy/Jason Maguire
13) 116-132 MONKERHOSTIN (FR) 7-10-02 Martin St Quinton Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson
THE bonusprint.com GOLD CUP HISTORY
The bonusprint.com Gold Cup was introduced at Cheltenham in December, 1963, three years after the successful Mackeson Gold Cup (now the Paddy Power Gold Cup) which is held the previous month.
Originally under the sponsorship of Massey Ferguson, the valuable and prestigious handicap chase had a number of sponsors before settling down with the title, the Tripleprint Gold Cup, in 1992.
This year it is called the bonusprint.com Gold Cup for the first time, though still under the sponsorship of George Ward's Grunwick Group.
The Irish took the first three runnings, thanks to the efforts of Limeking, Flying Wild and Flyingbolt.
Bob Turnell had two successes as a trainer, the first with The Laird in 1966 when the jockey was Jeff King. The Laird went on to be second in the 1968 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.
His second winner, Arctic Bow, was ridden by his son Andy Turnell and they easily beat Soloning by six lengths for owner Jim Joel.
"Arctic Bow was a pretty good horse and I thought that he'd win the Grand National. He was ante-post favourite for that race but, after winning a prep race two or three weeks beforehand at Wincanton, he suffered from a heart-attack and dropped dead," recalled the winning rider who now trains.
Fulke Walwyn, one of the greatest-ever jump trainers, captured the 1968 running with Tassilo, while the admirable Titus Oates, trained by Gordon Richards and ridden by Ron Barry, defied 11st 13lb in 1969. Richards also trained Clever Folly (1989) and Addington Boy (1996).
Leap Frog was another Irish winner in 1971 off 12st 1lb, after earlier in that year running second to L'Escargot in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Fred Winter gained the first of his three bonusprint.com Gold Cup wins courtesy of the great Pendil in 1973. His other training successes were with Observe in 1982 and Fifty Dollars More the following season.
Pendil won back-to-back King George VI Chases at Kempton Park in 1972 and 1973, and was just caught by The Dikler in the 1973 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.
He is the only winner of the bonusprint.com Gold Cup to have also won the other feature race at the bonusprint.com Meeting, the totesport Bula Hurdle, which he did in 1970.
Jenny Pitman had plenty of top chasers during her time as a trainer and she was successful with Bueche Giorod in the bonusprint.com Gold Cup in 1980. She won two totesport Cheltenham Gold Cups, with Burrough Hill Lad in 1984 and Garrison Savannah in 1991.
Another charismatic retired trainer, David Nicholson, was responsible for sending out Another Coral to victory in the 1992 bonusprint.com Gold Cup. The nine-year-old received a marvellous ride from Richard Dunwoody to get the better of Second Schedual by five lengths.
Norman Williamson, who retired from the saddle in 2003 after a highly-successful career and is now in demand for his services as a broadcaster, was in the plate on Go Roger Go, the most recent Irish-trained winner of the bonusprint.com Gold Cup in a marvellous finish in 2000.
Mick Fitzgerald is the most recent jockey to have been victorious in this valuable and exciting handicap chase, partnering the Nicky Henderson-trained Iris Royal to a head success over Risk Accessor last year.
The same partnership was also successful in 2002 with Fondmort who beat Foly Pleasant by six lengths.
Fondmort became only the seventh horse to win both legs of Cheltenham's Autumn Double, the Paddy Power Gold Cup and the bonusprint.com Gold Cup, albeit in different seasons, when he was given another magnificent ride by Fitzgerald to land the first-named contest last year by eight lengths from Poliantas.
Senor El Betrutti (1997) and Pegwell Bay (1988) are the only two horses to have captured the Paddy Power Gold Cup and bonusprint.com Gold Cup in the same season.
THE bonusprint.com GOLD CUP FACTS & FIGURES
* The bonusprint.com Gold Cup usually takes place over two miles and five furlongs on the New Course at Cheltenham. Last year, because of the lack of rain over the summer and during the autumn, the handicap chase was run over two miles and four and a half furlongs on the Old Course at Cheltenham.
* There have been 35 runnings, the first in 1963. Frost intervened in 2001, 1995 and 1976, snow in 1990 and 1981, while the 1967 running was lost due to a foot and mouth epidemic.
* Limeking, trained in Ireland by Danny Morgan, won the inaugural running, defeating Flying Wild by two lengths.
* In all, there have been five Irish-trained winners of the bonusprint.com Gold Cup. The victories of Limeking (1963), Flying Wild (1964) and Flyingbolt (1965) ensured that the first three runnings all went to Ireland. However, no horse hailing from the Emerald Isle was successful between Leap Frog (1971) and Go Roger Go, victorious in 2000.
* Arkle, the greatest steeplechaser of all time and triumphant in the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times, suffered a rare reversal in the 1964 bonusprint.com Gold Cup. Anne Duchess of Westminster's charge was saddled with the burden of 12st 10lb (which included a 3lb penalty for winning the Hennessy just seven days beforehand) and finished the staying-on third behind the useful Irish mare Flying Wild (receiving 32lb) and Buona Notte (receiving 26lb).
* The highest weight ever carried to victory in the Bonusprint.com Gold Cup was the 12st 7lb shouldered by Pendil in 1973. Other notable weight-carrying performances were Flyingbolt with 12st 6lb in 1965 and Leap Frog with 12st 1lb in 1971. Pendil is the only horse to have also won the other major race at the bonusprint.com Meeting, the totesport Bula Hurdle, which he did in 1970.
* In addition to holding the weight-carrying record for the bonusprint.com Gold Cup, Pendil also has the distinction of being the shortest-priced winner, being returned at 8/11.
* Nine favourites or joint-favourites have won the bonusprint.com Gold Cup - Flyingbolt (1965, 5/2), Titus Oates (1969, 9/4), Leap Frog (1971, 3/1), Arctic Bow (1972, 9/2), Pendil (1973, 8/11), Fifty Dollars More (1983, 3/1), Oregon Trail (1986, 3/1), Kings Fountain (1991, 7/4) and Addington Boy (1996, 7/4).
* A fancied horse - if not the favourite - usually wins the bonusprint.com Gold Cup. 28 victors have been returned at single-figure odds. There have not been any huge shocks in the bonusprint.com Gold Cup, with the longest-priced victor being the 20/1 chance The Snipe (1978).
* Female trainers have saddled the Bonusprint.com Gold Cup winner three times - Auriol Sinclair with Simian (1970), Jenny Pitman with Bueche Giorod (1980) and, most recently, Sue Nock with Senor El Betrutti (1997).
* Gordon Richards and Fred Winter were the most successful trainers in the history of the bonusprint.com Gold Cup with three winners each. Richards sent out Titus Oates (1969), Clever Folly (1989) and Addington Boy (1996) while Winter had Pendil (1973), Observe (1982) and Fifty Dollars More (1983).
* Among current trainers, Martin Pipe and Nicky Henderson are the winning-most with two bonusprint.com triumphs apiece - Pipe scored with Fragrant Dawn (1993) and Northern Starlight (1998), while Henderson has taken the last two renewals, courtesy of Fondmort (2002) and Iris Royal last season.
*Mick Fitzgerald became only the second jockey to have ridden more than one bonusprint.com Gold Cup winner last year when partnering Iris Royal to success in 2003, having been on board Fondmort the previous term. Brendan Powell, now retired from the saddle but still involved in racing as a trainer, won on Pegwell Bay (1988) and Dublin Flyer (1994).
* Senor El Betrutti (1997) and Pegwell Bay (1988) are the only two horses to have landed Cheltenham's Autumn Double of the Paddy Power Gold Cup and bonusprint.com Gold Cup in the same season.
* Five other horses have won both very valuable handicap chases but in different years. Fondmort took the 2003 Paddy Power and the bonusprint.com Gold Cup the previous season, while Dublin Flyer (PP 1995, b 1994), Another Coral (PP 1991, b 1992), Beau Ranger (PP 1987, b 1984) and Fifty Dollars More (PP 1982, b 1983) also achieved double glory.
* No horse has won the bonusprint.com Gold Cup twice.
ROLL OF HONOUR FOR THE bonusprint.com GOLD CUP
YEAR HORSE AGE/WEIGHT TRAINER JOCKEY SP RAN
2003 Iris Royal 7-10-13 Nicky Henderson Mick Fitzgerald 7/1 17
2002 Fondmort 6-10-05 Nicky Henderson Mick Fitzgerald 5/1 9
2000 Go Roger Go 6-11-00 Edward O'Grady (IRE) Norman Williamson 7/1 12
1999 Legal Right 6-10-13 Jonjo O'Neill Richard Johnson 6/1 9
1998 Northern Starlight 7-10-01 Martin Pipe Tony McCoy 15/2 13
1997 Senor El Betrutti 8-11-03 Sue Nock Graham Bradley 9/1 9
1996 Addington Boy 8-11-10 Gordon Richards Tony Dobbin 7/4f 10
1994 Dublin Flyer 8-10-02 Tim Forster Brendan Powell 100/30 11
1993 Fragrant Dawn 9-10-02 Martin Pipe Declan Murphy 14/1 11
1992 Another Coral 9-11-04 David Nicholson Richard Dunwoody 11/2 10
1991 Kings Fountain 8-11-10 Kim Bailey Anthony Tory 7/4f 8
1989 Clever Folly 9-10-04 Gordon Richards Neale Doughty 4/1 6
1988 Pegwell Bay 7-10-13 Tim Forster Brendan Powell 7/2 10
1987 Bishops Yarn 8-10-07 Toby Balding Richard Guest 100/30 5
1986 Oregon Trail 6-10-07 Simon Christian Ronnie Beggan 3/1jf 6
1985 Combs Ditch 9-11-09 David Elsworth Colin Brown 13/2 7
1984 Beau Ranger 6-9-10 John Thorne John Hurst 8/1 10
1983 Fifty Dollars More 8-11-10 Fred Winter Richard Linley 3/1f 13
1982 Observe 6-10-11 Fred Winter John Francome 11/2 15
1980 Bueche Giorod 9-10-00 Jenny Pitman Bryan Smart 14/1 15
1979 Father Delaney 7-10-10 Peter Easterby Alan Brown 12/1 12
1978 The Snipe 8-10-00 John Webber Anthony Webber 20/1 14
1977 Even Melody 8-11-02 Neville Crump Colin Hawkins 8/1 11
1975 Easby Abbey 8-11-10 Peter Easterby Ron Barry 5/1 9
1974 Garnishee 10-10-06 Tom Jones David Mould 12/1 9
1973 Pendil 8-12-07 Fred Winter Richard Pitman 8/11f 8
1972 Arctic Bow 7-10-12 Bob Turnell Andy Turnell 9/2 jf 11
1971 Leap Frog 7-12-01 Tom Dreaper (IRE) Val O'Brien 3/1f 12
1970 Simian 8-11-08 Auriol Sinclair David Moore 4/1 7
1969 Titus Oates 7-11-13 Gordon Richards Ron Barry 9/4f 11
1968 Tassilo 10-10-01 Fulke Walwyn Aly Branford 8/1 14
1966 The Laird 5-10-09 Bob Turnell Jeff King 13/2 8
1965 Flyingbolt 6-12-06 Tom Dreaper (IRE) Pat Taaffe 5/2f 11
1964 Flying Wild 8-10-06 Dan Moore (IRE) Tommy Carberry 100/8 7
1963 Limeking 6-10-12 Danny Morgan (IRE) Toss Taaffe 100/9 14
For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink