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Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Best Mate, Hardy Eustace and Azertyuiop all on course to defend their titles

Best Mate, seeking his fourth consecutive totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup success, heads the 27 remaining entries for this year's contest following the February 22 confirmation stage, details of which are revealed today, Wednesday, February 23.

Henrietta Knight's charge will again be opposed by Sir Rembrandt, runner-up in 2004, as well as Beef Or Salmon, fourth last year and Best Mate's conqueror in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. Rule Supreme, victorious in the 2004 Royal & SunAlliance Chase and an impressive winner of the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on his latest start, also goes forward along with Pillar Property Chase victor Grey Abbey, Strong Flow, Celestial Gold, winner of both the Paddy Power and the Hennessy Gold Cup, King George VI Chase victor Kicking King and Kingscliff.

In the Smurfit Champion Hurdle, 21 remain including Hardy Eustace and Rooster Booster, the winners in 2004 and 2003 respectively. The strong Irish challenge is boosted by Harchibald, Back In Front, Essex and Macs Joy while other leading confirmations include Inglis Drever, victorious in Saturday's Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.

All three of the leading contenders in Wednesday's highlight, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, go forward among the dozen confirmations. Last year's winner Azertyuiop is joined by Moscow Flyer, the 2003 scorer, and Well Chief, last year's Irish Independent Arkle Trophy winner and an impressive winner of the Victor Chandler Chase at Cheltenham on January 29 when he made light of top-weight.

The Ladbrokes World Hurdle has 22 possibles, headed by French superstar Baracouda, the victor in 2003 and 2004. Howard Johnson has both Inglis Drever and Royal Rosa still engaged while the three-mile contest remains a possible target for Rule Supreme.

A great race looks in prospect for the inaugural Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase on the Thursday with 28 confirmations including Farmer Jack, who defeated Strong Flow and Celestial Gold at Newbury last time, 2000 Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Edredon Bleu, It Takes Time, winner of the Grade One Ascot Chase at Lingfield on Saturday, Cheltenham specialist Therealbandit, Irish hope Kicking King and Thisthatandtother, runner-up three times this season at Cheltenham in the Paddy Power and bonusprint.com Gold Cups as well as the Victor Chandler Chase.

All of the novice events look particularly strong this year with 32 in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy, 33 in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase, 73 in the Letheby & Christopher Supreme Novices' Hurdle, 89 in the Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle, 60 in the JCB Triumph Hurdle and 87 in the inaugural Brit Insurance Novices' Hurdle.

Edward Gillespie, Cheltenham's Managing Director, commented: "We are now less than three weeks away from the start of the first four-day Festival.

"The publication of the forfeits for the 11 Championship races adds to the excitement of the build-up. It is marvellous to see three defending champions on-course to defend their titles, with of course Best Mate's attempt to win a fourth totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup in the front of all our minds."

For further information, please contact Edward Gillespie or Peter McNeile, Commercial Manager, at Cheltenham Racecourse on 01242 513014.


Class A, Grade One, £350,000 Total Prize Fund. 3.15pm, Cheltenham, Friday, March 18. For five-year-olds and upwards, three miles and two and a half furlongs. Weights: 5yo: 11st; 6yo+: 11st 10lb; mares allowed 7lb. Entries closed January 5, entries revealed January 10 (40 entries). Forfeit stage February 22 (27 remain), £17,500 supplementary entry stage March 12, 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 Tuesday, February 22.

Form Horse Age Owner Trainer
0/43-0450 ASTONVILLE (FR) 11 Fergus Wilson Michael Scudamore
1112P-25P BALLYCASSIDY (IRE) 9 Roddy Owen & P Fullagar Peter Bowen
4-151312 BEEF OR SALMON (IRE) 9 Joe Craig Michael Hourigan IRE
1/211-12 BEST MATE (IRE) 10 Jim Lewis Henrietta Knight
111U-2P CALLING BRAVE (IRE) 9 Sir Robert Ogden Nicky Henderson
3321-113 CELESTIAL GOLD (IRE) 7 David Johnson Martin Pipe
P/6111-11 GREY ABBEY (IRE) 11 Ken & Elinor Roper, Norman Furness Howard Johnson
231111//-51 HEROS COLLONGES (FR) 10 John Hales Paul Nicholls
121/P2P- IRISH HUSSAR (IRE) 9 Major Christopher Hanbury Nicky Henderson
2-B1211 KICKING KING (IRE) 7 Conor Clarkson Tom Taaffe IRE
11/112-2 KINGSCLIFF (IRE) 8 Arnold Sendell Robert Alner
111421U12 OLLIE MAGERN 7 Roger Nicholls Nigel Twiston-Davies
1/2113-F OUR VIC (IRE) 7 David Johnson Martin Pipe
P11B-33F2 PIZARRO (IRE) 8 Edward Wallace Edward O'Grady IRE
4P-0456 PRESENT BLEU (FR) 10 Fergus Wilson Michael Scudamore
302-13233 ROYAL AUCLAIR (FR) 8 Clive Smith Paul Nicholls
31133F1 RULE SUPREME (IRE) 9 John Fallon Willie Mullins IRE
P62-2424 SIR REMBRANDT (IRE) 9 Alan Hordle Robert Alner
402151P SOLARIUS (FR) 8 Fergus Wilson Michael Scudamore
11F111-32 STRONG FLOW (IRE) 8 Barry Marshall Paul Nicholls
1126PF3 TAKE THE STAND (IRE) 9 The Courters Peter Bowen
1F0-0102 THEREALBANDIT (IRE) 8 David Johnson Martin Pipe
22F31-P TIUTCHEV 12 The Liars Poker Partnership Martin Pipe
F11P-122 TRABOLGAN (IRE) 7 Trevor Hemmings Nicky Henderson
FUP-44145 TRUCKERS TAVERN (IRE) 10 Margaret Scholey Ferdy Murphy
562-4120P TURNIUM (FR) 10 Fergus Wilson Michael Scudamore
50FP-30 VENN OTTERY 10 Oliver Carter Martin Pipe

27 entries remain after February 22 forfeit stage
4 Irish-trained


All of the leading fancies remain engaged in the £700,000 John Smith's Grand National, following the first forfeit stage, details of which are revealed today, Wednesday, February 23.

A total of 130 horses go forward, including 30 from Ireland and four from France. This compares favourably to last year, when there were 100 horses still engaged at this same stage.

Amberleigh House, Clan Royal and Lord Atterbury, the first three horses home in 2004, are all still on course for this year's renewal, run at Aintree on Saturday, April 9, along with Bindaree, the winner in 2002, and the 2003 hero Monty's Pass, who also finished fourth last year.

Two significant trials for the John Smith's Grand National were held last weekend at Haydock Park and Leopardstown.

The Red Square Vodka Gold Cup at Haydock Park on Saturday saw Forest Gunner defeat Double Honour, Kelami, L'Aventure and Truckers Tavern. Richard Ford's 11-year-old already has winning form over the Grand National fences with victories in both the John Smith's Fox Hunters Chase and the betfair.com Grand Sefton Chase in 2004. In the John Smith's Grand National, he is set to be reunited with amateur Carrie Ford, his partner in the John Smith's Fox Hunters Chase and successful in five of her six rides on the gelding. Forest Gunner looks to be the strongest contender ever to be partnered by a female jockey in the world's greatest chase.

At Leopardstown in Ireland on Saturday, Hedgehunter, a faller at the last when still in contention last year, got back to winning ways with success in the Bobbyjo Chase on his first run over fences since the 2004 John Smith's Grand National.

Other leading contenders include Silver Birch, this season's Welsh National victor who secured valuable Aintree experience when taking the totesport Becher Chase in November, Grey Abbey, last season's Scottish National victor and successful on both his starts this season, and recent impressive Sandown Park scorer Joly Bey, who is trained by Nick Gifford and will be attempting to follow in the footsteps of Aldaniti, trained by Nick's father Josh for a memorable victory back in 1981. Joly Bey is amateur ridden by David Dunsdon. The last amateur to achieve Grand National success was Marcus Armytage on Mr Frisk in 1990.

Of the big stables, Martin Pipe has 13 to choose from while Jonjo O'Neill has a dozen still engaged.

Charles Barnett, Aintree's Managing Director, commented: "It is great to see all of the leading contenders still going forward for the 2005 John Smith's Grand National.

"This year's renewal promises to be most memorable, with plenty of high-class performers and Aintree favourites among the 130 confirmations."


Class A, Grade 3, Handicap Chase, Total Prize Fund £700,000. 3.45pm, Aintree, Saturday, April 9, 2005. Four miles and four furlongs (over the Grand National course). For 6-y-o and upwards which are allotted a rating of 110 or more by the Senior BHB NH Handicapper following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including February 6. Horses, which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain or Ireland at January 26, may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible for a weight providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse's racecourse performances to February 6 would merit a minimum rating of 110. The bottom-weighted horse, Toulouse-Lautrec, is rated 109. To qualify horses must have run at least three times in Steeple Chases run under the Rules of Racing of the same Recognised Turf Authority up to and including February 6. At the Handicapper's discretion such horses may be allocated a rating. The decision of the Senior BHB NH Handicapper shall be final. Entries closed January 26, entries revealed January 27 (152 entries), first forfeit stage February 22 (130 remain), second forfeit stage March 22, five-day confirmation stage April 4, final declaration stage, 10.00am, April 7. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Tuesday, February 22. May not include some overseas form.

Form Horse Age Owner Trainer
P/6111-11 GREY ABBEY (IRE) 11-11-12 Roper Family and Norman Furness Howard Johnson
P62-2424 SIR REMBRANDT (IRE) 9-11-10 Alan Hordle Robert Alner
5/U136-3 KEEN LEADER (IRE) 9-11-09 Adair Catherwood Jonjo O'Neill
F4/422F- LE COUDRAY (FR) 11-11-09 J P McManus Christy Roche IRE
2626F0 KAMILLO (FR) 7-11-09 J Hayoz Francois Cottin FR
52-3052 FIRST GOLD (FR) 12-11-08 J P McManus Francois Doumen FR
510-2265P SEEBALD (GER) 10-11-08 The Macca & Growler Partnership Martin Pipe
302-13233 ROYAL AUCLAIR (FR) 8-11-07 Clive Smith Paul Nicholls
3F223-46 RINCE RI (IRE) 12-11-07 Frank Moriarty Ted Walsh IRE
111421U12 OLLIE MAGERN 7-11-05 Roger Nicholls Nigel Twiston-Davies
3321-113 CELESTIAL GOLD (IRE) 7-11-05 David Johnson Martin Pipe
60420F- ALEXANDER BANQUET (IRE) 12-11-04 Miriam O'Callaghan Willie Mullins IRE
4/F3FP6-6 VALLEY HENRY (IRE) 10-11-04 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson
0004-3F0 MONTY'S PASS (IRE) 12-11-03 Dee Racing Syndicate Jimmy Mangan IRE
34F-000 FONDMORT (FR) 9-11-03 Bill Brown Nicky Henderson
126PF3 TAKE THE STAND (IRE) 9-11-02 The Courters Peter Bowen
1112P-25P BALLYCASSIDY (IRE) 9-11-02 Roddy Owen & P Fullagar Peter Bowen
P4P/21-U4 BALLYBOUGH RASHER (IRE) 10-11-01 B D R Partnership Howard Johnson
232120 RISK ACCESSOR (IRE) 10-11-01 J P McManus Christy Roche IRE
UP-44145 TRUCKERS TAVERN (IRE) 10-11-01 Margaret Scholey Ferdy Murphy
5UU1-60 PUNTAL (FR) 9-11-00 Terry Neill Martin Pipe
4521F-0 JURANCON II (FR) 8-11-00 David Johnson Martin Pipe
133-44352 NATIVE UPMANSHIP (IRE) 12-11-00 Sue Magnier Arthur Moore IRE
216F-56 BINDAREE (IRE) 11-11-00 Raymond Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies
P51-0454 AMBERLEIGH HOUSE (IRE) 13-11-00 Halewood International Ltd Ginger McCain
50FP-30 VENN OTTERY 10-10-13 Oliver Carter Martin Pipe
06334-3 KNIFE EDGE (USA) 10-10-13 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
2/1P5/-0P SHOTGUN WILLY (IRE) 11-10-13 Graham Roach Paul Nicholls
21-2111 COLONEL FRANK 8-10-12 The Hambledon Hunters Brendan Powell
1F-024061 HEDGEHUNTER (IRE) 9-10-12 Trevor Hemmings Willie Mullins IRE
0/P3010-12 FOLY PLEASANT (FR) 11-10-11 Nick Shutts Nick Shutts
43-0450 ASTONVILLE (FR) 11-10-10 Fergus Wilson Michael Scudamore
24P-111 SILVER BIRCH (IRE) 8-10-09 Paul Barber and Des Nichols Paul Nicholls
1/66F-540 AD HOC (IRE) 11-10-09 Sir Robert Ogden Paul Nicholls
1/5555-2 TIMBERA (IRE) 11-10-08 Josephine Breen Dessie Hughes IRE
31111//-51 HEROS COLLONGES (FR) 10-10-08 John Hales Paul Nicholls
00-46034 GLENELLY GALE (IRE) 11-10-08 Frank Bradley Arthur Moore IRE
114-0P25 NATIVE JACK (IRE) 11-10-08 Mrs F Carroll Arthur Moore IRE
5P-55431 IT TAKES TIME (IRE) 11-10-08 David Johnson Martin Pipe
411/12-4 CLAN ROYAL (FR) 10-10-08 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
13-4P5S34 NIL DESPERANDUM (IRE) 8-10-08 Mike Shone Frances Crowley IRE
UU16216 BARON WINDRUSH 7-10-07 The Double Octagon Partnership Nigel Twiston-Davies
1P-23PP LORD NOELIE (IRE) 12-10-07 Executive Racing Bridget Nicholls
15F-0541 JOLY BEY (FR) 8-10-07 David Dunsdon Nick Gifford
115103-0 JAKARI (FR) 8-10-07 The Earl Cadogan Henry Daly
13//-3P34 FRENCHMAN'S CREEK 11-10-06 Rory Sweet & Panda Christie Hughie Morrison
P132F6-0 IZNOGOUD (FR) 9-10-06 The County Stores & Avalon Surfacing Martin Pipe
122111 LORD OF ILLUSION (IRE) 8-10-06 Patrick Kennedy Tom George
25-1251 GUNTHER MCBRIDE (IRE) 10-10-05 Mike Tuckey Philip Hobbs
31-12050 POLAR RED 8-10-05 Lady Clarke Martin Pipe
1354432 DOUBLE HONOUR (FR) 7-10-05 The 4th Middleham Partnership Philip Hobbs
12/315-11 FOREST GUNNER 11-10-04 John Gilsenan Richard Ford
41F-1P235 COLNEL RAYBURN (IRE) 9-10-04 Thatch (Ferns) Racing Syndicate Paul Nolan IRE
1UP-012 JUST IN DEBT (IRE) 9-10-04 J W Hazeldean Martin Todhunter
55-10114 SPOT THEDIFFERENCE (IRE) 12-10-04 J P McManus Enda Bolger IRE
120-0112 GROUND BALL (IRE) 8-10-04 J P McManus Charlie Swan IRE
F132/5-4 SHAMAWAN (IRE) 10-10-03 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
11/1P3-4 LORD ATTERBURY (IRE) 9-10-03 David Johnson Olivia Jackson
62-4120P TURNIUM (FR) 10-10-03 Fergus Wilson Michael Scudamore
6603021 INNOX (FR) 9-10-03 Marquesa de Moratalla Francois Doumen FR
3P/32B1- HERMES III (FR) 10-10-03 The Dover Street Boys Mick Easterby
0P133F0 EUROPA 9-10-03 Trevor Hemmings Ferdy Murphy
2P-3P1P0 MERCHANTS FRIEND (IRE) 10-10-03 Magic Moments Charlie Mann
4-60200 ARCTIC COPPER (IRE) 11-10-03 Grand Alliance Racing Club Noel Meade IRE
21PP0-2P HUNTERS TWEED 9-10-03 Trevor Hemmings Peter Beaumont
U41-054 SIMPLY GIFTED 10-10-03 Steve Hammond Jonjo O'Neill
462112 STRONG RESOLVE (IRE) 9-10-03 Fair City Flyers Lucinda Russell
1102464 L'AVENTURE (FR) 6-10-02 Chris Harriman Paul Nicholls
402151P SOLARIUS (FR) 8-10-02 Fergus Wilson Michael Scudamore
22-0031 MARCUS DU BERLAIS (FR) 8-10-02 Marcus Beresford Arthur Moore IRE
121P-05 NATIVE EMPEROR 9-10-02 J C, J R and S R Hitchins Jonjo O'Neill
1U11/54- A PIECE OF CAKE (IRE) 12-10-02 Lightbody Celebration Cakes Ltd Jim Goldie
P502/-0P SUPREME GLORY (IRE) 12-10-01 Chris Moorsom Pat Murphy
1132-2P1 LONGSHANKS 8-10-01 Alan Halsall Kim Bailey
065-236 SMARTY (IRE) 12-10-01 Tracey Brown Mark Pitman
4PF3/20-1 LORD OF THE TURF (IRE) 12-10-01 Frank O'Malley John Bleahen IRE
504206 WILD TEMPO (FR) 10-10-01 Fergus Wilson Michael Scudamore
4P-0456 PRESENT BLEU (FR) 10-10-01 Fergus Wilson Michael Scudamore
046100F3 GARVIVONNIAN (IRE) 10-10-01 Mrs A Long Ned Mitchell IRE
3F/1F-U0 SCOTS GREY 10-10-01 Henry Ponsonby Nicky Henderson
022U/-P0 RED STRIKER 11-10-00 Norman Mason Richard Guest
P1P-5352 GUNNER WELBURN 13-10-00 William Ritson/David Hall/R D Ellis Andrew Balding
153000 DAVIDS LAD (IRE) 11-10-00 Eddie Joe's Racing Syndicate Tony Martin IRE
151-01P0 HISTORIC (IRE) 9-10-00 Mrs Robin Rumboll Tom George
612600 SWANSEA BAY 9-10-00 Billy Evans Peter Bowen
1P-6P112 BATHWICK ANNIE 9-10-00 W Clifford Paul Keane
FP-P00UP ARCTIC JACK (FR) 9-9-13 Trevor Hemmings Sue Smith
0/P40-51 FREETOWN (IRE) 9-9-13 Sarah Blumberg & R Nairn Len Lungo
3-20000 WINNING DREAM (IRE) 11-9-13 Mrs Oliver McKiernan Oliver McKiernan IRE
21-0005 CASSIA HEIGHTS 10-9-13 B Ridge & D Hewitt Steve Brookshaw
1-4P RAND (NZ) 11-9-12 Eamon Cleary Noel Meade IRE
11D/-3F5P BE MY ROYAL (IRE) 11-9-12 Dr David Chapman-Jones Tom George
0003F43 KELAMI (FR) 7-9-12 Halewood International Ltd Francois Doumen FR
12-0F325 KYMANDJEN (IRE) 8-9-11 Robert Hodgins Paul Nolan IRE
F31522 JUVEIGNEUR (FR) 8-9-10 Trevor Hemmings Nicky Henderson
2/FPF-00 AKARUS (FR) 10-9-09 John White Martin Pipe
PP-36P335 ROYAL ATALZA (FR) 8-9-09 Terry Ramsden Geoff Huffer
100F2-601 WHEREAREYOUNOW (IRE) 8-9-08 Raymond Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies
0/121P-0 WORLD WIDE WEB (IRE) 9-9-08 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
50UF-PP HEART MIDOLTIAN (FR) 8-9-08 Mrs Seamus Neville Martin Pipe
33F-221 BE MY BETTER HALF(IRE) 10-9-08 J P McManus Arthur Moore IRE
40-1S41 MULTEEN RIVER (IRE) 9-9-08 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
222-315 YOU'RE SPECIAL (USA) 8-9-07 Les Buckley Patrick Haslam
023-F00 NATIVE SESSIONS (IRE) 10-9-07 R D Murphy Noel Meade IRE
6PPP-P1P ITSONLYME (IRE) 12-9-07 Mel Davies Venetia Williams
0/1112F-120 NEVER COMPROMISE (IRE) 10-9-07 Dermot Desmond Ted Walsh IRE
11P//3P-000 THIS IS SERIOUS (IRE) 11-9-07 Granit City Syndicate Charlie Swan IRE
063P6P MONTREAL (FR) 8-9-07 David Johnson Martin Pipe
311115 FASHIONS MONTY (IRE) 9-9-07 Brian Mulholland Peter Monteith
F-301404 JACK HIGH (IRE) 10-9-06 Brenda Ross Ted Walsh IRE
611-33F0 LATITUDE (FR) 6-9-06 Neil Edwards Martin Pipe
11P//-154U SPRING MARGOT (FR) 9-9-06 Sir Robert Ogden Paul Nicholls
F0-U050 BOUNCE BACK (USA) 9-9-05 Belinda Harvey Martin Pipe
0P-F061 MINI SENSATION (IRE) 12-9-03 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
533260 BRIGHT APPROACH (IRE) 12-9-02 John Burbidge Grant Cann
241-030 HEROIC (IRE) 9-9-01 J P McManus Charlie Swan IRE
000066 SNOWY FORD (IRE) 8-9-01 Ron Shaw Patrick Chamings
0P-PP0206 HERSOV (IRE) 9-9-00 Sin Sceal Eile Syndicate Paul Roche IRE
110-156 SHERKIN ISLAND (IRE) 7-8-13 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
3412//P-5P CRUISE THE FAIRWAY (IRE) 9-8-13 R J T 290 Limited Brendan Powell
1PP-P56P BE MY MANAGER (IRE) 10-8-13 Brian Murfin Martin Todhunter
10PF-P4 DARK ROOM (IRE) 8-8-12 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
22P-215 MAJED (FR) 9-8-11 Lucy Normile Lucy Normile
P-62211F BOY'S HURRAH (IRE) 9-8-09 Woolpack Farm Partnership Howard Johnson
4000U5 FARINEL 9-8-08 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
6/411-P0 INDIAN CHANCE 11-8-06 Chris and Stella Watson, Jock Cullen Dr Jeremy Naylor
11/2P-43P ONLY ONCE 10-8-06 Group Captain John Prideaux Howard Johnson
510P/-1P543 PAXFORD JACK 9-8-06 Ruth Nelmes Milton Harris
P2P-12152 TOULOUSE-LAUTREC (IRE) 9-8-05 John French Tom George

130 entries after the February 22 forfeit stage
30 Irish-trained
4 French-trained


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