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Monday, February 14, 2004



18 FOR RED SQUARE VODKA GOLD CUP




A total of 18 horses have gone forward at today's five-day confirmation stage for the £120,000 Red Square Vodka Gold Cup, the highlight of Haydock Park's programme on Saturday, February 19, and part of the British Horseracing Board's £300,000 Order of Merit.

Sue Smith's duo of Royal Emperor and Chives, winner of the Grade Two Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock this season, head the weights followed by another course regular in Truckers Tavern, winner of the 2003 Peter Marsh Chase and a staying-on fourth last time behind Lord Transcend in the latest renewal of that contest on January 22.

Trainer Ferdy Murphy reported today: "Truckers Tavern runs in the Red Square Vodka Gold Cup at Haydock Park on Saturday.

"He's absolutely spot-on at the moment and has come out of the Peter Marsh very well.

"The ground and three-and-a-half mile trip are made for him. We'll get Saturday out of the way before we decide where we go next with him. He takes a lot a lot of work to get fit - twice as much as any other horse - I could run him every week as racing takes so little out him.

"I'm not worried about the weights going up as he such a big, gross horse and he can carry weight. I'm very much looking forward to Saturday."
Martin Pipe, successful with Jurancon II 12 months ago, has three to choose from in the tough as teak Stormez, Control Man and Maximize, while there are two possible runners from Ireland in Willie Mullins' Hedgehunter and the Frances Crowley-trained Nil Desperandum.

Hedgehunter, a faller at the last when still bang in contention for the Grand National, is one of two entries along with Chives owned by Trevor Hemmings.

Hemmings' Racing Manager Mick Meagher said today: "At the moment, both horses are intended runners. Hedgehunter is also entered in a race at Leopardstown and Willie Mullins will make his mind up nearer the time.

"Chives was obviously very disappointing last time [when he finished last in the Peter Marsh Chase] but ran a great race when third in the Welsh National and when winning and finishing second at Haydock before that. Hopefully, he can come back to that form on Saturday."
Other exciting contenders include Baron Windrush, successful in last month's totesport Classic Chase at Warwick, Forest Gunner, twice a winner at Aintree over the Grand National fences and the Paul Nicholls-trained duo of Heros Collonges and the tough staying mare L'Aventure.


GOOD SUPPORTING ACTION

In addition to the Red Square Vodka Gold Cup, there is plenty of other good action to look forward to at Haydock Park on Saturday including the opening Grade Two Brit Insurance Prestige Novices' Hurdle (1.25pm) over an extended two miles and seven furlongs. Among the 17 entries are Howard Johnson's promising duo of No Refuge, a Grade Two winner at Warwick last time, and Mephisto, successful in the Ebor at York in 2004 and an encouraging third on his hurdling debut in a Grade Two contest at Cheltenham.

Paul Nicholls has entered the exciting Blushing Bull while Francois Doumen could run Moulin Riche, sixth at Cheltenham last time, while the one Irish challenger is Our Ben from the Willie Mullins yard and a Grade Three winner on his penultimate start at Limerick.

This contest is part of an integrated seasonal package in the jumps programme comprising four 3-mile Grade 2 Novices' Hurdle races and culminating in a new race at the Cheltenham Festival.

The series kicked-off with the Brit Insurance Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham on December 11, which was won by Brewster. The second race was run at Doncaster on January 29 and fell to the Howard Johnson-trained Bewleys Berry.


For many, one of the main attractions of the seven-race programme could be the qualifier for the Pertmeps Handicap Hurdle (1.55pm), which could see the eagerly-awaited seasonal reappearance of the Jonjo O'Neill-trained Iris's Gift. The talented grey made his seasonal debut in this race last year, finishing a fine second under top weight before going on to success at Cheltenham and Aintree.


GROUND

The ground at Haydock Park is currently HEAVY.


Clerk of the Course Kirkland Tellwright explained: "We had a wet weekend but it is now forecast to be substantially dry during the week.


"There could be some wet weather towards the end of the week and I would think it won't be quicker than soft for Saturday's meeting."



39 IN INAUGURAL DAILY TELEGRAPH FESTIVAL TROPHY CHASE




A total of 39 entries is revealed today for the first running of The Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase, the new championship event taking place over two miles and five furlongs on Thursday, March 17.


With a £150,000 total prize fund, The Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase is the most valuable addition to this year's first four-day Festival and is shaping up into a great battle for chasers whose ideal trip is between the two miles of the Queen Mother Champion Chase and extended three miles and two furlongs of the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. And 26 of the entries do not have an engagement in either of those other two races.


Among those entered are Stan James King George VI Chase winner Kicking King, the 2000 Queen Elizabeth Champion Chase hero Edredon Bleu, recent Kinloch Brae Chase first and second, Rathgar Beau and Central House; Buckby Lane, winner of Cheltenham's Ladbrokes Trophy Chase on January 29 after more than a year off, while champion trainer Martin Pipe accounts for no less than nine of the entries.


These include David Johnson's exciting trio Celestial Gold, Our Vic and Therealbandit as well as Seebald, owned by footballers Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman. Trainer Paul Nicholls has four entries - Le Duc, Le Roi Miguel, My Will and Thisthatandtother - while Nicky Henderson's entries include Fondmort, winner of last season's Paddy Power Gold Cup.


The Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase is number 47 of the 63 races in the British Horseracing Board's £300,000 Order Of Merit.


Edward Gillespie, Cheltenham Racecourse's Managing Director, said: "The Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase promises to be a really high-quality addition to the 2005 Festival and we are delighted to see the inaugural running so well supported."

This media information pack also focuses on trainers at The Festival with a feature on Kevin Bishop, who has been training for 30 years and has a real chance of a first Festival success with Ashley Brook, a possible for The Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase.


There is also news that Martin Pipe, with 32 Festival successes, is now just eight behind the all-time most successful Festival trainer, the late Fulke Walwyn.


TICKET SALES

The Friday of The Festival, totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup day, is fully sold out, but tickets remain on sale for all enclosures on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday although availability in the £17 Best Mate Enclosure is likely to reach capacity in the next week or so.


THE DAILY TELEGRAPH FESTIVAL TROPHY CHASE

Class A, Grade Two, £150,000 Total Prize Fund. Cheltenham, 2.35pm, Thursday, March 17. For five-year-olds and upwards, two miles five furlongs. Weights: 5yo: 10st 9lb; 6yo+: 11st; mares allowed 7lb. Penalties: after September 30, 2003, a winner of a Grade Two chase 3lb; of a Grade One chase 5lb. Entries closed February 9, entries revealed February 14 (39 entries). Forfeit stage February 22, five-day confirmation stage March 12, final declaration 10.00am, March 16. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Friday, February 11.


Form Horse Age Owner Trainer
35-1124 ASHLEY BROOK (IRE) 7 Mrs E K Ellis Kevin Bishop
P4P/21-U BALLYBOUGH RASHER (IRE) 10 BDR Partnership Howard Johnson
311/21-1 BUCKBY LANE 9 Mrs P Starkey Paul Webber
111U-2P CALLING BRAVE (IRE) 9 Sir Robert Ogden Nicky Henderson
3321-11 CELESTIAL GOLD (IRE) 7 David Johnson Martin Pipe
522112 CENTRAL HOUSE 8 John F Kenny Dessie Hughes IRE
111-604 EDREDON BLEU (FR) 13 Jim Lewis Henrietta Knight
0-1F2F4 FARMER JACK 9 Peter Partridge Philip Hobbs
34F-000 FONDMORT (FR) 9 Bill Brown Nicky Henderson
143-545 HAND INN HAND 9 Patrick Burling Developments Ltd Henry Daly
111-253 HI CLOY (IRE) 8 Susan McCloy Michael Hourigan IRE
P-P1606 HORUS (IRE) 10 Brian Kilpatrick Martin Pipe
32-4642 IMPEK (FR) 9 Jim Lewis Henrietta Knight
5P-5543 IT TAKES TIME (IRE) 11 David Johnson Martin Pipe
2-B1211 KICKING KING (IRE) 7 Conor Clarkson Tom Taaffe IRE
06334-3 KNIFE EDGE (USA) 10 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
F4/422F- LE COUDRAY (FR) 11 J P McManus Christy Roche IRE
404P10 LE DUC (FR) 6 Judy Stewart Paul Nicholls
4F6-514 LE ROI MIGUEL (FR) 7 Judy Stewart Paul Nicholls
B-P0233 MACS GILDORAN 11 Margaret McManus Willie Mullins IRE
5/3-3241 MIXSTERTHETRIXSTER (USA) 9 Tracey Barfoot-Saunt Tracey Barfoot-Saunt
6-13213 MONKERHOSTIN (FR) 8 Martin St Quinton Philip Hobbs
F-251P3 MOSSY GREEN (IRE) 11 Greenstar Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
11/1-145 MURPHY'S CARDINAL (IRE) 9 T Conway & Mrs Conway Noel Chance
U13211 MY WILL (FR) 5 Judy Stewart Paul Nicholls
33-4435 NATIVE UPMANSHIP (IRE) 12 Sue Magnier Arthur Moore IRE
1/2113-F OUR VIC (IRE) 7 David Johnson Martin Pipe
U12141 RATHGAR BEAU (IRE) 9 One-O-Eight Racing Club Dusty Sheehy IRE
03-0U20 REDEMPTION 10 John Duggan & Michael Purtill Nigel Twiston-Davies
232120 RISK ACCESSOR (IRE) 10 J P McManus Christy Roche IRE
10-2265 SEEBALD (GER) 10 The Macca & Growler Partnership Martin Pipe
U16041 THE GALWAY MAN (IRE) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Tony Mullins IRE
F0-0102 THEREALBANDIT (IRE) 8 David Johnson Martin Pipe
F22-222 THISTHATANDTOTHER (IRE) 9 Graham Roach Paul Nicholls
12-0552 TIKRAM 8 Mike Charlton and Rodger Sargent Gary Moore
22F31-P TIUTCHEV 12 The Liars Poker Partnership Martin Pipe
455054 UPGRADE 11 Matt Archer & Jean Broadhurst Martin Pipe
4/F3FP6- VALLEY HENRY (IRE) 10 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson
50FP-30 VENN OTTERY 10 Oliver Carter Martin Pipe

39 entries
10 Irish-trained entries

Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase - Analysis

This year's inaugural £150,000 Grade Two Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy, run over two miles and five furlongs on Thursday, March 17, promises to be a cracking event with 39 entries including 10 from Ireland.


Champion trainer Martin Pipe dominates the entries and is responsible for no less than nine possibles, including Celestial Gold, winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup and also victorious in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.

The seven-year-old could be joined by stablemates Horus, It Takes Time, Our Vic, who was leading when falling at the last in the bonusprint.com Gold Cup at Cheltenham in December, Seebald, a three-time winner at Cheltenham, Therealbandit, victorious four times at Prestbury Park and runner-up behind Grey Abbey on his latest start in the Pillar Property Chase on January 29, the 2000 Irish Independent Arkle Trophy victor Tiutchev, Upgrade and the enigmatic Venn Ottery, who finished fifth in last season's Queen Mother Champion Chase and recently joined Pipe.


Edredon Bleu, now 13 years old, has twice won at The Festival, having landed the 1998 Grand Annual Chase and Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2000. He recently shaped well in a run over hurdles at Kempton and could be joined at Cheltenham by his stable companion Impek, who showed signs of a return to form when second last time out behind Oneway at Sandown.


The 10 Irish-trained entries are headed by Kicking King, winner of the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. Tom Taaffe's charge will be bidding to make it third time lucky at The Festival, having finished second in the 2003 Letheby & Christopher Supreme Novices' Hurdle and filling the same position behind Well Chief in last season's Irish Independent Arkle Trophy.

Completing the Irish contingent are Central House, victorious in the Grade One Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, Hi Cloy, a good third behind Moscow Flyer last time out, Le Coudray, Macs Gildoran, Mossy Green, Native Upmanship, runner-up in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2002 and 2003, Rathgar Beau, successful three times in Grade Two company this season, Risk Accessor, second in the 2003 Grand Annual Chase and The Galway Man, owned by Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary through his Gigginstown House Stud.


Paul Nicholls looks to hold a strong hand with his four entries. These are Le Duc, triumphant on his penultimate start at Cheltenham when accounting for Redemption by four lengths in the Unicoin Homes Handicap Chase, this season's Grade Two Peterborough Chase hero Le Roi Miguel, leading novice My Will, victorious on his latest two starts at Uttoxeter and in Cheltenham's Grade Two Unicoin Homes Dipper Novices' Chase on January 1, as well as Thisthatandtother, runner-up three times at Cheltenham this season in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, bonusprint.com Gold Cup and Victor Chandler Chase.


Other leading contenders include Monkerhostin and Farmer Jack from the Philip Hobbs yard. Monkerhostin was a Festival winner in 2004 when taking the Coral Cup and confirmed his liking for the course when landing this season's bonusprint.com Gold Cup in December while Farmer Jack captured a Grade Two contest at Aintree earlier this season.

Buckby Lane was a very impressive winner on his first start in over a year when taking the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Cheltenham on January 29 while Noel Chance has never made any secret of the high regard in which he holds Murphy's Cardinal, winner of his first six starts and fifth on his latest outing behind Rule Supreme in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown. Nicky Henderson has two to choose from in Calling Brave and the 2002 bonusprint.com Gold Cup and 2003 Paddy Power Gold Cup victor Fondmort. Howard Johnson has entered the 2003 Charlie Hall Chase hero Ballybough Rasher and Valley Henry.

Completing the field are Kevin Bishop's very useful novice Ashley Brook, Knife Edge from the Jonjo O'Neill stable, last season's Grade One Ascot chase scorer Hand Inn Hand, the 2004 Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup Chase winner Tikram and Mixsterthetrixster.


Breakdown of Entries by Trainer in the Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase

9 Entries
Martin Pipe

4 Entries
Paul Nicholls

2 Entries
Nicky Henderson
Philip Hobbs
Howard Johnson
Henrietta Knight
Willie Mullins IRE
Christy Roche IRE

1 Entry
Tracey Barfoot-Saunt
Kevin Bishop
Noel Chance
Henry Daly
Michael Hourigan IRE
Dessie Hughes IRE
Arthur Moore IRE
Gary Moore
Tony Mullins IRE
Jonjo O'Neill
Eamonn Sheehy IRE
Tom Taaffe IRE
Nigel Twiston-Davies
Paul Webber




PIPE JUST EIGHT BEHIND WALWYN




Following another two victories at The Festival in 2004, the record-breaking Martin Pipe is just eight wins behind the late Fulke Walwyn in the list of most successful trainers at jump racing's biggest event.


Walwyn trained 40 Festival winners in a 40-year period between 1946 and 1986 but last season Pipe moved on to 32 successes following success for Well Chief in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy and Maximize in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase. The Somerset handler's inaugural Festival success came with Baron Blakeney in the 1981 JCB Triumph Hurdle.


Pipe is now seven winners clear of his nearest current rival Nicky Henderson (25 winners), who surprisingly has not trained a winner for the past two years.


Pipe and Henderson are some way clear of their rivals, with Irish handler Edward O'Grady (17 winners) the only other current trainer to have managed a dozen or more successes at The Festival.

THE MOST SUCCESSFUL FESTIVAL TRAINERS

40 Fulke Walwyn (Winners from 1946-86)
32 Martin Pipe (1981- )
28 Fred Winter (1970-88)
26 Tom Dreaper IRE (1946-71)
25 Nicky Henderson (1985- )
25 Fred Rimell (1948-81)
23 Vincent O'Brien IRE (1948-59)
23 Bob Turnell (1956-80)
22 Ivor Anthony (1930-52)
19 George Beeby (1930-59)
17 David Nicholson (1986-99)
17 Edward O'Grady IRE (1974- )
15 Harry Brown (1920-38)
15 Tom Coulthwaite (1911-36)
15 Tom Rimell (1927-49)
14 Dan Moore IRE (1953-79)
13 Jack Anthony (1929-50)
13 Tim Forster (1963-98)
12 Peter Easterby (1967-86)
12 John Edwards (1969-94)
12 Tom Jones (1965-78)

(Current trainers in bold)
(NB Trainers of some of the earliest winners were not recorded)


THE DAILY TELEGRAPH LEADING TRAINER AWARD

The Daily Telegraph is sponsoring the Leading Trainer Award for the second time in 2005 and this year should be as exciting as ever with trainers representing Great Britain, Ireland and France aiming for the prize of a trip for two to the La Manga resort in Spain.


Last year's leading trainer Paul Nicholls has a very powerful string that includes 2004 Queen Mother Champion chase winner Azertyuiop as well as totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Strong Flow and he looks to have a great chance of retaining the title.

Martin Pipe also looks likely to be a major contender with the impressive 2004 Arkle winner Well Chief and the Paddy Power Gold Cup and Hennessy Gold Cup winner Celestial Gold as well as Marcel, currently favourite for the Letheby & Christopher Supreme Novices' Hurdle.


However, with many of the leading fancies for the top races being trained in Ireland, there could be a new Leading Trainer by Friday evening.

The Award will be decided on the number of winners trained over the four days with prize money taken into consideration in the event of a tie.


Past Winners Of The Daily Telegraph Leading Trainer Award (Number of Wins)

2004: Paul Nicholls (4)
2003: Jonjo O'Neill (3)
2002: Martin Pipe (3)
2001: Cancelled
2000: Nicky Henderson (4)
1999: Paul Nicholls (3)
1998: Martin Pipe (4)
1997: Martin Pipe (4)
1996: Ferdy Murphy, Edward O'Grady, Martin Pipe (2)
1995: David Nicholson (3)
1994 David Nicholson, Edward O'Grady, Martin Pipe 2
1993: Nicky Henderson, Martin Pipe, Nigel Twiston-Davies (2)
1992: Nicky Henderson, David Nicholson, Simon Sherwood (2)
1991: Martin Pipe (3)
1990: Nicky Henderson (2)
1989: Toby Balding, John Edwards, David Elsworth, Josh Gifford, Martin Pipe (2)
1988: Josh Gifford (3)
1987: Toby Balding, Nicky Henderson, Fred Winter (2)
1986: Nicky Henderson (3)
1985: Nicky Henderson (3)
1984: Michael Dickinson (3)
1983: Michael Dickinson (3)
1982: Michael Dickinson, Fulke Walwyn (2)
1981: Peter Easterby (3)
1980: John Edwards, Edward O'Grady, Bob Turnell, Fred Winter (2)

The Daily Telegraph is also the proud sponsor of the new two-mile-five-furlong race, The Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase, on Thursday March 17, 2005.




BISHOP PRAYING FOR FIRST FESTIVAL SUCCESS




Kevin Bishop first took out a training permit as a teenager in 1974 and was a successful amateur jockey with over 60 wins in point-to-points and seven under Rules. Since then, he has sent out a steady stream of winners from his Somerset base, enjoying the biggest success of his career when Tiepolino landed the 1983 Topham Trophy over the Grand National fences at Aintree.


But this year, the 48-year-old Bishop - a one-time film stunt man - appears to have a serious chance of breaking his duck at The Festival with the promising novice chaser Ashley Brook, who holds entries in both The Irish Independent Arkle Trophy and, against more seasoned opposition, the new Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase.


Ashley Brook won a bumper and two hurdle races before being sent over fences this season. The seven-year-old won his first two starts at Exeter and Newton Abbot before finding My Will half-a-length too strong in the Grade Two Betfred Novices' Chase at Uttoxeter on January 22. Last time out, he stepped up to Grade One level and ran better than his finishing position of fourth of five suggested in the Grade One Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown on February 5, when he was keeping on well at the finish to come home two and a half lengths behind El Vaquero.


"I'm not really leaning towards the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy or The Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase at the moment," said Bishop. "It will largely depend on what the ground is like at The Festival - if it came up good, he could run in The Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase or if it came up quite soft, he would probably go for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy.


"He needs softish ground if he is running over two miles whereas he certainly get two miles, five furlongs, on good ground.


"He has had sore shins quite badly this season and was quite sore again after his latest run at Sandown. Luckily, they haven't lasted very long and have pretty well cleared up already which is a good sign. Hopefully, he's through the worst of them."

Bishop is also possibly going to aim Grave Doubts at The Festival's closing race, the Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle, a race in which he finished ninth last year.


He said: "Grave Doubts could go possibly go for the Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle once again if the ground was good. Unfortunately, we want it on the soft side for Ashley Brook and good for Grave Doubts - as the races in which we want it soft are earlier in the week and the race in which we want it good is on the last day it will probably be wrong for both of them!

"Hopefully, we can break our duck at The Festival this year."



AT THE RACES PAYMENTS BACK TO RACECOURSES TOPS £1 MILLION




At The Races announced today that it has now made payments exceeding £1 million back to its racecourse partners since re-launching in June 2004 and is well on track to surpass its various financial targets for the first twelve months of operation.


Matthew Imi, Chief Executive, said, "Our racecourse shareholders and partners continue to be direct cash beneficiaries of the success our business is achieving across all key areas. At The Races remains firmly committed to popularising our sport as a widely distributed racing and betting focused business. We are available to over 10 million homes in the UK and Ireland and are well positioned as such to monetise our media rights across a multitude of different platforms for the benefit of our shareholders, partners and the sport as a whole."

"In 2005 At The Races will be focusing on the successful introduction of a number of new and exciting rights driven betting products. We will be making further announcements regarding these in due course. In the meantime, we would like to thank our numerous racecourse, betting and industry partners as well as the ever increasing number of ATR viewers and punters for their ongoing support of our business."


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