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Monday, February 1, 2010



George Charlton is almost certain his stable star Knockara Beau will head to Wetherby for the £30,000 Grade Two totepool Towton Novices’ Chase on Saturday, February 6.

The Northumberland handler is keen to see the talented seven-year-old take in the three mile, one furlong contest and is unfazed by the presence of top-class novices such as the Nicky Henderson-trained Punchestowns among the eye-catching 17-strong entry.

This year’s fantastic entry is in keeping with the stature of the prestigious race that has in the past been won by stars such as 1997 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Mr Mulligan, Escartefigue, Keen Leader, Royal Emperor and Ollie Magern, who went on to twice land the Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase (2005 & 2007).

Charlton revealed today: “I have entered Knockara Beau this morning and he is 99 per cent certain to go to Wetherby for the totepool Towton Novices’ Chase, so long as conditions are right. I’ll have a look at the opposition before a final decision is made but the Towton is the plan.

“I’m not bothered about the presence of Punchestowns and horses like that. We have to meet that calibre of horse at some stage.”

Knockara Beau, who has three wins and two seconds on the board from five starts over fences this term, finished runner-up to the highly-rated Diamond Harry in a Grade Two contest over two and a half miles at Haydock on January 23.

Charlton continued: “You take what you can get against these top-class horses. Diamond Harry put in a fantastic performance at Haydock but who’s to say he’ll be able to do it over three miles in the future. I’m confident three miles will be Knockara Beau’s trip.

“He’s come on for his Haydock run last time. He missed a bit of work beforehand and just needed that. The trip was a bit short of his best and the ground actually wasn’t as bad as people were saying.

“There was still some frost in the ground and my jockey (Jan Faltejsek) came back with barely any mud on him saying it was actually good in places rather than heavy. Good ground is not what he wants over that shorter trip.”

Knockara Beau could renew rivalry with the Ian Williams-trained Weird Al, to whom he was a neck runner-up at Cheltenham in November when conceding 8lb. Williams has also engaged Hunters Ploy.

Others of note among the entries include Grade Two December Novices’ Chase victor Burton Port from the Henderson yard, the Donald McCain-trained Khatchaturian, Bay Cherry, trained by Howard Johnson, the Paul Nicholls-trained Massasoit and The Sliotar from the David Pipe yard.

The seven-race programme kicks off at 1.15pm and runs through to 4.25pm.

Tickets are available by calling the course on 01937 582035 or online at www.wetherbyracing.co.uk.


Cheltenham Racecourse today announced the names of the 12 riders that will take part in the Festival Ladies Charity Sweepstake in aid of Cancer Research UK. The flat race, over one mile and five furlongs, takes place on Ladies Day, Thursday, March 18, and will be run at 5.15pm as the seventh race of the day. Participants are required to provide their own mount that must have run at least twice under the recognised Rules of Racing.

The riders, selected from 136 applications, exhibit a wide range of equestrian skills and experience. They include Ladies Day Ambassador Georgie Browne, Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter of International media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, Anne Marie Adams, who works for Laurence Robertson MP, in whose constituency Cheltenham Racecoure sits and Camilla Henderson, daughter of racehorse trainer Nicky Henderson. Elisabeth Murdoch expressed her delight at being selected. She said: “It's going to be an amazing thrill and honour to ride round Cheltenham.”

Cheltenham’s Managing Director, Edward Gillespie, added: “We were delighted with the interest shown in this race and it was a hard task to reduce the high number of applicants down to just 12. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these ladies to experience the thrill of riding at The Festival, but more importantly, it will raise a significant amount of money for a very worthy cause.”

The ladies are committed to raising at least £5,000 each for Cancer Research UK, the official Ladies Day charity for 2010. The 12 Ladies taking part are:

Georgie Browne (33, from Somerset), is the partner of champion trainer Paul Nicholls and regular work rider on dual Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Master Minded. She is also the Ladies Day Ambassador for 2010.

Elisabeth Murdoch (42, London), is the CEO and Chairman of the Shine Group, second daughter of media magnate Rupert Murdoch and is married to Matthew Freud, son of the late writer Sir Clement Freud. Since founding Shine in 2001, she has steered its growth from a single multi-genre independent production companies to one of the biggest international producers and distributors of television in the world. Shine Group programmes include Masterchef, Spooks, Hustle and Merlin. Elisabeth has been riding since she was four and is trying to event as much as she can.

Camilla Henderson (22, Lambourn), is currently studying psychology at Bristol University. She hopes to qualify as a chartered sports psychologist and work in horse racing. She has represented Britain in the pony FEI team, three-day evented at national level and ridden a point-to-point winner. This is Camilla's sixth charity race and she will be following a proud family tradition as both of her parents and her grandfather also rode at Cheltenham.

Anne Marie Adams (38, Gloucestershire), lives in Twyning, close to Cheltenham. She has ridden since childhood but this will be the first charity race in which she has taken part. She works for Tewkesbury Conservative MP Laurence Robertson, in whose constituency the racecourse falls.

Orna Madden (31, Dublin), is a Barrister practising in Dublin, where she has worked for the past six years. She began her three-day eventing career in 1991 and continued competing until 2005. She has represented Ireland at both the European Young Rider Championships in 1999 and the European Pony Championships in 1992. Orna is a Board Member of the UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre and the Whitfield Clinic, Waterford, Ireland.

Elaine Curran (33, Lancashire), lives in West Lancashire with her husband, three horses and three dogs and works full time as an Area Account Manager for a national cleaning company. Elaine spent her junior years show jumping and started point-to-pointing two seasons ago. Elaine is riding and raising money in memory of her Dad and her Aunt who both lost their lives to cancer.

Rachael Kane (26, Dublin), represented Ireland as a member of the Irish squad for mounted games on two occasions and rode at the Royal Dublin Horse Show. Last year Rachael took out her Amateur Jockey’s Licence and rode in a charity race at the Punchestown National Hunt Festival. Rachael works as a journalist and will be attending The Festival in March to cover all the racing action for the Irish Daily Star newspaper.

Helen Needham (39, West Midlands), is looking forward to riding at The Festival as a fantastic opportunity to mark the milestone event of her 40th birthday in April. Helen, who is married to Philip and mother of Holly, enjoyed 10 point-to-point wins before retiring 13 years ago. She works for the family oil distribution business and currently trains five point-to-pointers for her parents.

Germaine Oliver (49, Cheltenham), is an Interior Designer, with children at Cheltenham College and currently rides out for Jonjo O’Neill. Germaine was an active member of the University of Cork’s Equestrian Club and competed in England, Holland, Germany and Austria as a member of the Irish Universities equestrian team.

Kate Doyle (31, Dublin), has worked as a Development Surveyor since 2003 and is an associate member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors. She is a former three-day event rider, having ridden at young rider European and International level. She has held an amateur licence, riding under rules and in point-to-points.

Amy Weaver (28, Newmarket), is currently Britain’s youngest female racehorse trainer. Born in Cheltenham, she now shares a house in Newmarket with best friend and leading lady jockey Hayley Turner who has promised to coach her for her first competitive ride in a race.

Caitrin O’Rourke (24, Co Meath, Ireland), was the winner of a charity race at Punchestown in May 2009 and is a regular work rider for Oliver Brady. Caitrin works as a children’s nurse at Temple Street Hospital in Dublin and writes a weekly column for the Irish Field. She will be riding a horse provided by the sponsor of the Ryanair Chase, Michael O’Leary.

Associate Director of Cancer Research UK, Jools Tait said: "Cancer Research UK is delighted to be the official charity for Ladies Day at The Festival. We would like to say a huge thank you to Cheltenham Racecourse and to each of the ladies who have signed up to the charity sweepstake. The money raised will make a real difference to the vital work of our scientists, doctors and cancer patients both now and in the future. We wish all participants the best of luck and hope that they enjoy the day".

The Festival 2010 takes place from Tuesday to Friday, March 16 to 19.

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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