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Wednesday, February 17, 2010


The countdown to The Festival steps up a gear today as the fields for the five non-novice Grade One races are pared down following the first scratchings deadline.

There are no surprise defections in the five races, with the Paul Nicholls-trained pair of Kauto Star and Denman heading the 19 contenders remaining in the eagerly-awaited £475,000 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday, March 19. Fans who want to be at Cheltenham to witness this historic contest need to act quickly with the both the Best Mate and Tattersalls enclosures now sold out on the day. Timeform think that Kauto Star is firmly on target to land his third totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup and award the Clive Smith-owned superstar a rating of 191+, 8lb clear of his stablemate Denman, the 2008 Gold Cup hero who parted company with his new partner Tony McCoy at Newbury on Saturday (February 13). In total, Paul Nicholls is responsible for six of the 19 remaining entries. According to Timeform it could be a two-horse race, with the third-best horse being Imperial Commander, the 2009 Ryanair Chase victor who ran Kauto Star to a nose at Haydock in November, rated 175.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls also has the two top-rated horses with Timeform among the 17 remaining entries for the £320,000 Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday, March 17, in the shape of Master Minded and Twist Magic. Master Minded, also owned by Clive Smith, looked back to his imperious best with a victory at Newbury on Saturday in the Game Spirit Chase and Timeform consider him as having a huge chance to become only the second three-time winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase (following Badsworth Boy) as he has a rating of 179, 11lb superior to Twist Magic on 168, while Ireland’s Big Zeb is on 164.

A hugely competitive Ryanair Chase is in prospect on Thursday, March 18 with 33 entries going forward. Golden Silver, runner-up to Big Zeb in a Grade Two event at Punchestown on January 31, has been given a rating of 162 by Timeform, just 1lb ahead of this season’s Paddy Power Gold cup hero Tranquil Sea (161), while there are no less than five horses sharing a Timeform rating of 160 - the Queen’s Barbers Shop, Herecomesthetruth, Boylesports.com Gold Cup victor Poquelin, last year’s third Schindlers Hunt and Voy Por Ustedes, runner-up to Imperial Commander last year having taken the Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2007.

Similarly, Timeform has six of the remaining 24 entries in the £370,000 Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle rated between 160 and 165. Irish Champion Hurdle victor Solwhit is on 165, with Zaynar on 165+. Zaynar, who landed the JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival in 2009, is due to run at Kelso on Thursday. Celestial Halo and Binocular, second and third respectively in 2009, are both on 164 with last year’s victor Punjabi 1lb lower at 163. Khyber Kim, who has won his last two starts, both at Cheltenham, is also rated 162 with last year’s Spinal Research Supreme Novices’ Hurdle victor Go Native on 161+ and the 2007 victor Sublimity is on 160. The Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle is run on Tuesday, March 16, the opening day of The Festival.

Big Buck’s is a hot favourite to record a second victory in the £260,000 Ladbrokes World Hurdle on Thursday, March 18, and this view is clearly echoed by Timeform, which gives the Paul Nicholls-trained contender a rating of 174+, 13lb clear of Karabak on 161 with Tidal Bay, who returned to form in the Grade Two Betfair Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day, just below on 160§. A total of 24 contenders remain in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.


totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup
Kauto Star (FR) 191+
Denman (IRE) 183
Imperial Commander (IRE) 175
Madison du Berlais (FR) 170
Cooldine (IRE) 161
Carruthers (GB) 160
Schindlers Hunt (IRE) 160
Mon Mome (FR) 159
What A Friend (GB) 159
Calgary Bay (IRE) 158
Casey Jones (IRE) 156
Notre Pere (FR) 154+
Taranis (FR) 153
My Will (FR) 153
Albertas Run (IRE) 152§
Tricky Trickster (IRE) 150p
Aran Concerto (IRE) 147
Cerium (FR) 137
Mr Pointment (IRE) ?

Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase
Master Minded (FR) 179
Twist Magic (FR) 168
Big Zeb (IRE) 164
Golden Silver (FR) 162
Kalahari King (FR) 162+
Tranquil Sea (IRE) 161
Petit Robin (FR) 158
Barker (IRE) 156
Forpadydeplasterer (IRE) 156
Well Chief (GER) 156
Newmill (IRE) 155
Oh Crick (FR) 155
Sizing Europe (IRE) 154
Fix The Rib (IRE) 153
Free World (FR) 152
Mahogany Blaze (FR) 151
Cornas (NZ) 146

Ryanair Chase
Golden Silver (FR) 162
Tranquil Sea (IRE) 161
Barbers Shop (GB) 160
Herecomesthetruth (IRE) 160
Poquelin (FR) 160+
Schindlers Hunt (IRE) 160
Voy Por Ustedes (FR) 160
Jack The Giant (IRE) 159
Deep Purple (GB) 159
Petit Robin (FR) 158
Our Vic (IRE) 157
Barker (IRE) 156
Chapoturgeon (FR) 156
Forpadydeplasterer (IRE) 156
Newmill (IRE) 155
Planet of Sound (GB) 155+
Scotsirish (IRE) 155
Made In Taipan (IRE) 153
Something Wells (FR) 153
J'Y Vole (FR) 153+
Master Medic (IRE) 152
Albertas Run (IRE) 152§
Rare Bob (IRE) 149

Ryanair Chase continued…
Snowy Morning (IRE) 148
Aran Concerto (IRE) 147
The Fonze (IRE) 147
Deutschland (USA) 145
Consigliere (FR) 144
Panjo Bere (FR) 144
Tartak (FR) 144
Watch My Back (GB) 138
Glencove Marina (IRE) ?
Gwanako (FR) ?

Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle
Solwhit (FR) 165
Zaynar (FR) 165+
Binocular (FR) 164
Celestial Halo (IRE) 164
Punjabi (GB) 163
Khyber Kim (GB) 162
Go Native (IRE) 161+
Sublimity (FR) 160
Donnas Palm (IRE) 159
Medermit (FR) 157
Muirhead (IRE) 156
Quevega (FR) 155
Al Eile (IRE) 154
Jumbo Rio (IRE) 154
Won In The Dark (IRE) 154
Starluck (IRE) 153
Blue Bajan (IRE) 152
Dunguib (IRE) 152p
Voler La Vedette (IRE) 150
Ebadiyan (IRE) 145
Raise Your Heart (IRE) 140
Royal And Regal (IRE) 100p
Fiulin (GB) -p
Kargali (IRE)

Ladbrokes World Hurdle
Big Buck's (FR) 174+
Karabak (FR) 161
Tidal Bay (IRE) 160§
Sentry Duty (FR) 158+
Time For Rupert (IRE) 158
Pettifour (IRE) 157
Fair Along (GER) 156
Powerstation (IRE) 156
Mr Thriller (FR) 155
Oscar Dan Dan (IRE) 155
Ebadiyan (IRE) 154
Jumbo Rio (IRE) 154
Katchit (IRE) 154
Cousin Vinny (IRE) 153
Mourad (IRE) 152
War of Attrition (IRE) 152
Lie Forrit (IRE) 151+
Cape Tribulation (GB) 147
Kayf Aramis (GB) 146
Ballyfitz (GB) 144
Elzahann (IRE) 129
Royal And Regal (IRE) 100p
Fiulin (GB) -p
Gone To Lunch (IRE) ?


The highlight of the all-weather season takes place at Lingfield Park on Saturday, March 20, with the £100,000 Group Three Sportingbet Supports HEROS Winter Derby over 10 furlongs.

This year’s renewal has attracted 42 entries, with several high-class performers engaged. Online gaming company Sportingbet back the Winter Derby for the second year in succession, with this year’s sponsorship in support of HEROS. HEROS is the charity which re-homes and re-trains ex-racehorses and its chief executive, Grace Muir, was awarded a Pride Racing Award in 2008 for the charity’s invaluable role in the racing industry.

Last year’s Winter Derby fell to the Richard Hannon-trained Scintillo, who saw off Premio Loco by the minimum distance of a nose. Premio Loco is engaged once again this year, while the Hannon team have two possible starters in Soul City and Heliodor.

Soul City boasted some very good two year-old form in 2008, landing the lucrative Goffs Million at the Curragh and winning a Group Three contest at Longchamp in France. Last year he was restricted to two outings, with his best effort coming when a fine third in the Group One Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh behind Mastercraftsman. Heliodor was successful in a conditions race on Polytrack at Kempton in September and was last seen out when finishing fourth in the Group Three St Simon Stakes at Newbury in October.

Richard Hannon Jnr, assistant trainer to his father, revealed today: “Soul City is a possibility for the Sportingbet Supports HEROS Winter Derby at the moment. We want to see how he copes with Polytrack, so the Winter Derby Trial Stakes (February 27) over the same course and distance at the end of February is a potential target beforehand.

“He has done very well over the winter. The ground was a little bit too firm for him in the St James’s Palace Stakes and he got hot and bothered so we decided to give him a nice break afterwards.

“We are looking to step him up to a mile and a quarter for the coming season and Lingfield could be a good starting point.

“We may also run Heliodor - he is by (American stallion) Scrimshaw and he is much better on Polytrack. He won a nice race over 10 furlongs at Kempton and he’s a real possibility for Lingfield.”

Tranquil Tiger, trained by Henry Cecil, has winning form over the course and distance having taken a pair of Listed contests at Lingfield at the end of 2009 including a short-head verdict over Suits Me on December 19.

A strong potential challenge from France is on the cards, headed by the John Hammond-trained Pallodio, who has won his last two starts with his latest victory coming in the Listed Grand Prix de la Riviera Cote d'Azur on the all-weather at Cagnes- sur-Mer on February 14, a race in which fellow Winter Derby possible Eire finished the length and a half runner-up. There is also a possible starter from Ireland in the shape of the Jim Bolger-trained Gan Amhras, who finished third behind the mighty Sea The Stars in the Group One 2000 Guineas at Newmarket last season.

Other leading contenders include Debussy, trained by John Gosden and victorious in the Group Two Prix Eugene Adam at Maisons-Laffitte last season as well as City Leader, a Group Two-winning two-year-old in 2007 who ran a good race to finish fifth in last season’s Group One Champion Stakes at Newmarket.

South Easter looked exciting when taking the Group Three Dee Stakes at Chester last season, while Stotsfold has been a great servant to the Walter Swinburn stable over the past few years and finished third in Arlington Million in 2009. Halicarnassus has been in fine form in Dubai over the winter and won a competitive handicap at Meydan on February 11.

The Sportingbet Supports HEROS Winter Derby forms part of a fantastic eight-race card at Lingfield Park on Saturday, March 20, with £281,500 in prize money for the final day of Arena Leisure’s all-weather season.

Paul Shrimpton, Managing Director of Lingfield Park, expressed his delight saying: "It is a pleasure to welcome back Sportingbet along with the excellent charity HEROS to Lingfield Park for our Winter Derby meeting. As well as generously sponsoring the feature races on the day, Sportingbet are hosting a special fundraising lunch for HEROS in the Pavilion Suite. We wish them a very successful day."

Racing Ambassador for Sportingbet and Derby-winning jockey, John Reid, said: "The Winter Derby is an excellent day for Sportingbet and HEROS to be involved with, it attracts some of the very best horses running on the all-weather and it is a great finale to the winter Flat season. Sportingbet will benefit from the widespread interest in the high-profile races and with Channel 4 and ATR coverage it is also perfect for us to create more awareness for HEROS who play such an excellent and important role in the life of many racehorses."

Sportingbet has for some time had a very close association with HEROS giving support and continuing to raise awareness of the excellent work they do.

Sportingbet and HEROS are also hosting a charity race for ex-jockeys, trainers and stable staff and among those taking part is John Reid who will be hoping to repeat his winning performance in last year's equivalent event.

Along with John Reid, another ex-champion Mick Fitzgerald will be co-hosting the fundraising lunch to be held in the recently upgraded Pavilion Suite at Lingfield. Tables or tickets for the lunch may be purchased from HEROS on 01488 638820.

The racing public will be able to meet and view some of the ex-racehorses who enjoyed success at Lingfield currently under the HEROS re-training regime during a parade and commentary on the day.

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

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