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Monday, April 11, 2005


Tom George's stable star Lord Of Illusion likely to run on Wednesday

Cheltenham Racecourse opens its doors for the first time since The Festival with two top-quality days of action on Wednesday and Thursday, April 13 and 14.

The highlight of the two-day programme is the £50,000 Grade Two Faucets For Mira Showers Silver Trophy (2.35pm), one of the final events in the British Horseracing Board's Order of Merit, run over 2m 5f on Wednesday. The 18 entries include Well Chief, the 2004 Irish Independent Arkle Trophy winner and second last time out to Moscow Flyer in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, as well as Seebald and Tikram, first and second in this contest last year. Other possibles include Le Roi Miguel, second on his latest appearance to Moscow Flyer in the John Smith's Melling Chase at Aintree last week and My Will, fifth in the Irish Independent Trophy at The Festival on his latest appearance.

Wednesday's action gets underway with the £13,500-added Centaur Exhibition & Conference Centre Novices' Hurdle (1.25pm), which has received a strong entry of 35, followed by the £15,000-added Telectronics Systems Handicap Chase (for the Golden Miller Trophy) (2.00pm) over an extended three miles and a furlong. Among the 25 entries for this contest are Royal & SunAlliance Chase victor Lord Noelie, the veteran Gunner Welburn and Jurancon II, winner of the valuable Red Square Vodka Gold Cup at Haydock in 2004.

The £18,000-added MITIE Group Handicap Hurdle (3.10pm) has received 30 entries including Martin Pipe's Celtic Son, a five-time winner this season and runner-up at Aintree last week and also Admiral, now a useful juvenile hurdler for Richard Guest having previously landed the King George V Handicap on the Flat at Royal Ascot.

Tom George's exciting novice Lord Of Illusion, last seen out when successful in the Cheltenham & Three Counties Club Handicap Chase at Prestbury Park on January 1, could return to action in the £15,000-added Messier Dowty Landing Gear Novices' Chase (3.45pm), a race which could also feature the Paul Nicholls-trained Red Devil Robert, victorious on his last three starts. Last year this race fell to Celestial Gold, who went to win both the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham and the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury this season.

Speaking today, Stroud-based George revealed: "Lord Of Illusion is more than likely to run at Cheltenham on Wednesday.

"He was also entered in the Scottish National at Ayr on Saturday but I've taken him out of that today. The ground would have been too soft for him there - he wants genuine good ground.

"He had an infected sinus which has kept him out of action since he won at Cheltenham in January but he seems ready to run again now, touch wood.

"He is also entered at Punchestown and there is also a possible race at Kelso for him later on - we are keeping our options open and he will go wherever there is good ground. The Cheltenham race will hopefully be the ideal race to start him off again."

Tom George is currently vying for top honours in the Gloucestershire Trainers Championship and will go into the meeting just behind Richard Phillips with the results at this meeting deciding who will scoop the trophy. The Cotswold Life Gloucestershire Trainers' Championship Novices' Hurdle (3.45pm) over two miles and a furlong takes place on Thursday, with Martin Pipe's Imperial Cup winner Medison among the 33 entries.

On Wednesday evening, there will be a sale of young jumping prospects in The Centaur, organised by auctioneers Brightwells. This sale is a unique event in the bloodstock and racing calender. Horses will be available to view throughout the day with the auction itself taking place inside The Centaur, where dinner will also be served. The sale was first held last year and proved to be a great success. Further details can be obtained by telephoning 01432 355300 or by visiting brightwells.com.

Taking centre stage on Thursday's seven-race programme is the £22,500 Listed Yorkshire Bank Mares' Only Handicap Hurdle (2.35pm) over an extended two miles and five furlongs, where there are 27 entries including Martin Pipe's Inch Pride, victorious in four of her last five starts.

The feature chase of the day is the £15,000 Nicholson Holman Cup Handicap Chase (3.10pm) over an extended two miles where there are 20 entries including Richard Lee's exciting novice Almaydan and last week's surprise John Smith's Topham Chase victor Cregg House.

Cheltenham favourite Earthmover, winner of the Christie's Foxhunter Chase at The Festival in 1988 and 2004, is one of 18 entries for the £5,000-added Baulking Green Hunters' Chase (4.20pm) over the Gold Cup distance of an extended three and a quarter miles along with Samuel Wilderspin and Ask The Natives, an impressive winner on his hunter chase debut last month.

Thursday's action concludes the professional season at Cheltenham and an award for the stable staff of the trainer responsible for the most best turned out awards at Cheltenham throughout the season will be made. Paul Nicholls is currently leading this competition, the prize for which is a weekend at the luxurious Tortworth Court Four Pillars Hotel in Gloucestershire for 20 members of staff (10 rooms for two people each).

Both days of racing take place on the NEW COURSE, with the ground currently riding good on both the chase and hurdle courses.

Clerk of the Course Simon Claisse explained: "We will be watering to maintain GOOD ground for the April meeting.

"There is also some rain forecast for Wednesday night but we are hoping for good ground on both the hurdles and the chase courses."

Admission prices for both days are £16 for the combined Club/Tattersalls enclosure (£10 for 16-24 year-olds) and £6 for the Best Mate enclosure.


Entries for the nine of the ten Grade 1 races at Punchestown's Irish National Hunt Festival, running from April 26 to 29, are revealed today with many of those who starred at Cheltenham and Aintree looking to bid for further success at Ireland's flagship jumping event.

The 15 entries for the feature EUR225,000 PUNCHESTOWN GUINNESS GOLD CUP, run on Wednesday, April 27, include totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Kicking King and the Robert Alner-trained Kingscliff, who was vying for favouritism at Cheltenham before being withdrawn at the 11th hour. Other entries in the Grade 1 three mile one furlong event include Daily Telegraph Chase winner Thisthatandtother, Cheltenham Gold Cup faller Pizarro, Saturday's Grand National runner-up Royal Auclair and Irish Hennessy Gold Cup winner Rule Supreme, who unseated his rider at Aintree last week.

Moscow Flyer, arguably the greatest modern-day chaser, is one of eight entered for the Grade 1 KERRYGOLD CHAMPION CHASE, run on Punchestown's opening day, and he is likely to start a warm favourite to land the two-mile contest for a second consecutive year. Rathgar Beau, the Sue Smith-trained Mister McGoldrick and Ground Ball are among others entered.

Harchibald, Brave Inca, Accordion Etoile, Macs Joy, Intersky Falcon and Al Eile, winner of Saturday's Grade 1 Scottish and Newcastle Aintree Hurdle, respectively finished second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last month and all are entered in the Grade 1 EMO OIL CHAMPION HURDLE, run on Friday, April 29.

J P McManus's mare Like-A-Butterfly, winner of last week's Grade 2 Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree, is one of 24 entries for the Grade 1 SWORDLESTOWN CUP NOVICE CHASE on Thursday, April 28, as is the same owner's Fota Island, winner of handicap chases at Cheltenham and Aintree, while War Of Attrition, Dempsey and Made In Japan - who finished second, third and fourth in Saturday's Grade 1 Maghull Novices' Chase at Aintree - are others engaged. The progressive Strike Back, trained by Jessica Harrington, is another eye-catching entry.

The Tom Foley-trained Royal Paradise, who was sent off joint-favourite for the Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham when finishing seventh, could bid to make amends in the Grade 1 EVENING HERALD CHAMPION NOVICE HURDLE over two miles on Tuesday, April 26. Pole Star and Reveillez - who respectively finished fourth and sixth at Cheltenham for trainer James Fanshawe - may reoppose while Briareus, an impressive winner of his last two starts for trainer Andrew Balding, is another interesting British-trained entry. Wild Passion, runner-up in the Letheby & Christopher Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, and the well-touted Publican, who finished eighth in the same race, are others entered.

The great mare Solerina, who has not raced since February, could make her eagerly-awaited reappearance in the Grade 1 BALLYMORE PROPERTIES CHAMPION STAYERS' HURDLE over three miles on Thursday, April 28, with Rule Supreme, who finished third in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham, expected to run in this event. Friday's Grade 1 Sefton Novices' Hurdle winner Asian Maze is also engaged as are the Edward O'Grady-trained Back In Front, Rule Supreme, the French-trained Blue Canyon and Cheltenham Festival winner Idole First.

JCB Triumph Hurdle third Akilak, one of several entries from trainer Howard Johnson at this year's Punchestown Festival, is among 21 engaged in the Grade 1 COLM MCEVOY AUCTIONEERS CHAMPION 4YO HURDLE on Thursday, April 28. Cheltenham sixth Strangely Brown, the Richard Guest-trained Admiral, an easy winner at Market Rasen last week, Levitator, a convincing winner of his only hurdling start for Michael O'Brien at Fairyhouse two weeks ago, United, unbeaten in two runs for Lucy Wadham, and Helensburgh, who has not run since easily winning at Punchestown in November, add further interest.

The betfair.com NOVICE HANDICAP CHASE on Friday, April 29, promises to be an ultra-competitive affair with 50 entries. These include Powers Gold Label Irish Grand National hero Numbersixvalverde, Like-A-Butterfly, War Of Attrition, the Ferdy Murphy-trained Joes Edge, an intended runner following his success at Aintree on Saturday, Powers Gold Cup second Forget The Past, Red Devil Robert, winner of his last three runs for trainer Paul Nicholls, his stablemates Inca Trail and Whitford Don and the Tom George-trained Lord Of Illusion, the winner of his last three starts who was a last-minute absentee from the Cheltenham Festival.

The Grade 1 MENOLLY HOMES CHAMPION NOVICE HURDLE, also on the Friday of Punchestown, promises to be another unmissable event with 45 entered including Grade 1 Sefton Novices' Hurdle first and second Asian Maze and Brewster, Back Nine, winner of both his starts for Robert Alner, Briareus, Philip Hobbs' pair Gold Medallist and Chilling Place, Pole Star, Prins Willem and Reveillez, Royal Paradise, Strangely Brown, Wild Passion, and Pharviva, who has not run since the Galway Festival in July but has won his last four outings over hurdles.

There are also supplementary entry stages, at a cost of 10 per cent of the total prize fund, for the Grade 1 events in the seven days before the races.

There is record prize money of EUR 2.127 million at this year's Irish National Hunt Festival and the remaining 23 races - including the EUR100,000 Grade 1 PADDY POWER CHAMPION BUMPER - close at the usual five or six-day stage.

Dick O'Sullivan, General Manager at Punchestown Racecourse, said today: "The Irish National Hunt Festival has gone from strength to strength in recent years and we are delighted that locally-based heroes such as Moscow Flyer, Kicking King and Harchibald are set to be joined at this year's Festival by a very strong overseas entry for the early-closing races from no less than 18 different trainers based in Britain and France. Added to the current unprecedented strength in depth of Irish-trained talent, this promises to make the 2005 Festival an unmissable event."

For further information, please contact Janet Williamson, PR Manager at Punchestown Racecourse, on +353 (0) 45 89 7704


1 Central House (GB) (D T Hughes)
2 Colca Canyon (Mrs J Harrington)
3 Ground Ball (C F Swan)
4 Mister McGoldrick (GB) (Mrs S J Smith (in GB))
5 Moscow Flyer (Mrs J Harrington)
6 Mossy Green (W P Mullins)
7 Native Upmanship (A L T Moore)
8 Rathgar Beau (E Sheehy)

1 Akshar (D K Weld)
2 Arteea (M Hourigan)
3 Astronomic (GB) (J H Johnson (in GB))
4 Augherskea (N Meade)
5 Briareus (GB) (A M Balding (in GB))
6 Coat Of Honour (USA) (J H Johnson (in GB))
7 Daly Said It (A J Martin)
8 High Priestess (M J P O'Brien)
9 In Compliance (M J P O'Brien)
10 Kill Devil Hill (P Nolan)
11 Leonardo De Vinci (E J O'Grady)
12 Maille Blu (FR) (T M Walsh)
13 Major Vernon (W P Mullins)
14 Man About Town (T J Taaffe)
15 Manorson (O Sherwood (in GB))
16 Mr Mcauley (M Halford)
17 New Field (T Mullins)
18 Pole Star (GB) (J R Fanshawe (in GB))
19 Publican (P A Fahy)
20 Ray Boy (P C O'Connor)
21 Reveillez (GB) (J R Fanshawe (in GB))
22 Royal Paradise (FR) (T Foley)
23 Sea Captain (GB) (N J Henderson (in GB))
24 The Railway Man (A L T Moore)
25 Wild Passion (GER) (N Meade)

1 Arctic Copper (N Meade)
2 First Gold (FR) (F Doumen (in FR))
3 Jack High (T M Walsh)
4 Jim (FR) (J T R Dreaper)
5 John James (J H Scott)
6 Kicking King (T J Taaffe)
7 Kingscliff (R H Alner (in GB))
8 Le Coudray (FR) (C Roche)
9 Le Roi Miguel (FR) (P F Nicholls (in GB))
10 Native Upmanship (A L T Moore)
11 Nil Desperandum (Ms. F M Crowley)
12 Pizarro (E J O'Grady)
13 Royal Auclair (FR) (P F Nicholls (in GB))
14 Rule Supreme (W P Mullins)
15 Thisthatandtother (P F Nicholls (in GB)) - .

1 Admiral (R C Guest (in GB))
2 Akilak (J H Johnson (in GB))
3 Asian Alliance (W P Mullins)
4 Dabiroun (P Nolan)
5 Don't Be Bitin (E Griffin)
6 Eye Candy (Mrs S McCarthy)
7 Helensburgh (P Hughes)
8 Iktitaf (N Meade)
9 Iron Man (FR) (J H Johnson (in GB))
10 Kentucky Charm (FR) (E J O'Grady)
11 L'Oudon (FR) (P F Nicholls (in GB))
12 Levitator (GB) (M J P O'Brien)
13 Loyal Focus (D K Weld)
14 Majlis (JPN) (M J P O'Brien)
15 Maxxium (M Halford)
16 Noble Request (FR) (P J Hobbs (in GB))
17 Openide (GB) (B W Duke (in GB))
18 Strangely Brown (E McNamara)
19 Tous Les Tables (N Meade)
20 United (GER) (Mrs L Wadham (in GB))
21 Vintage Gold (USA) (C O'Brien)

1 Always (GB) (N Meade)
2 Beechcourt (GB) (M J P O'Brien)
3 Davenport Milenium (W P Mullins)
4 Dempsey (M Pitman (in GB))
5 Euro Leader (W P Mullins)
6 Fota Island (M F Morris)
7 Kadount (FR) (A King (in GB))
8 Laoch Dubh (H de Bromhead)
9 Like-A-Butterfly (C Roche)
10 Livingstonebramble (W P Mullins)
11 Made In Japan (JPN) (P J Hobbs (in GB))
12 Mariah Rollins (P A Fahy)
13 Ned Kelly (E J O'Grady)
14 Newmill (J J Murphy)
15 Old Flame (C F Swan)
16 Saintsaire (FR) (N J Henderson (in GB))
17 Scarthy Lad (T O'Leary)
18 Sir Oj (N Meade)
19 Strike Back (Mrs J Harrington)
20 Swordplay (GB) (M J P O'Brien)
21 Top Strategy (T M Walsh)
22 Ulaan Baatar (Mrs J Harrington)
23 War Of Attrition (M F Morris)
24 Watson Lake (N Meade)

1 Asian Maze (T Mullins)
2 Back In Front (E J O'Grady)
3 Basilea Star (F Murphy (in GB))
4 Blue Canyon (FR) (F Doumen (in FR))
5 Brave Inca (C A Murphy)
6 Carlys Quest (GB) (F Murphy (in GB))
7 Dancing Bay (GB) (N J Henderson (in GB))
8 Davenport Milenium (W P Mullins)
9 Emotional Moment (T J Taaffe)
10 Holy Orders (W P Mullins)
11 Homer Wells (W P Mullins)
12 Idole First (Miss V Williams (in GB))
13 Kadoun (M J P O'Brien)
14 Our Ben (GB) (W P Mullins)
15 Rosaker (USA) (N Meade)
16 Rule Supreme (W P Mullins)
17 Solerina (J Bowe)
18 Yogi (T Foley)

1 Accordion Etoile (P Nolan)
2 Al Eile (J Queally)
3 Back In Front (E J O'Grady)
4 Bob What (T Mullins)
5 Brave Inca (C A Murphy)
6 Harchibald (FR) (N Meade)
7 Intersky Falcon (GB) (J O'Neill (in GB))
8 Kald River (FR) (T J Taaffe)
9 Macs Joy (Mrs J Harrington)
10 Publican (P A Fahy)
11 Royal Shakespeare (FR) (S Gollings (in GB))

1 Adarma (C Roche)
2 Aimees Mark (F Flood)
3 Another Rum (I A Duncan)
4 Ballynattin Buck (A L T Moore)
5 Beau Colina (A J Martin)
6 Bizet (F Flood)
7 Bob What (T Mullins)
8 Chauvinist (N J Henderson (in GB))
9 Colonel Monroe (E J O'Grady)
10 Davenport Milenium (W P Mullins)
11 Doodle Addle (J T R Dreaper)
12 Duncliffe (GB) (R H Alner (in GB))
13 Dungarvans Choice (N J Henderson (in GB))
14 Endless Magic (E J O'Grady)
15 Eric's Charm (FR) (O Sherwood (in GB))
16 Euro Leader (W P Mullins)
17 Forget The Past (GB) (M J P O'Brien)
18 G V A Ireland (F Flood)
19 Hard Winter (D T Hughes)
20 Hurry Bob (T Mullins)
21 Inca Trail (P F Nicholls (in GB))
22 Joes Edge (F Murphy (in GB))
23 Like A Bee (C Roche)
24 Like-A-Butterfly (C Roche)
25 Lincam (C F Swan)
26 Livingstonebramble (W P Mullins)
27 Lord Alphieross (W J Burke)
28 Lord Of Illusion (T R George (in GB))
29 Mirpour (E Griffin)
30 Mullacash (N Meade)
31 Mutineer (D T Hughes)
32 Nas Na Riogh (N J Henderson (in GB))
33 Night Busker (D T Hughes)
34 No Half Session (N Meade)
35 Nolans Pride (W J Burke)
36 Numbersixvalverde (M Brassil)
37 Parsons Legacy (P J Hobbs (in GB))
38 Pay It Forward (GB) (Mrs J Harrington)
39 Pearly Jack (GB) (D E Fitzgerald)
40 Ransboro (C F Swan)
41 Red Devil Robert (P F Nicholls (in GB))
42 Sandy Owen (P A Fahy)
43 Scarthy Lad (T O'Leary)
44 Schuh Shine (Miss V Williams (in GB))
45 Sir Oj (N Meade)
46 Sleep Bal (FR) (N J Henderson (in GB))
47 Sraid Na Cathrach (C Byrnes)
48 War Of Attrition (M F Morris)
49 Well Presented (Mrs J Harrington)
50 Whitford Don (P F Nicholls (in GB))

1 Akhtari (D T Hughes)
2 Asian Maze (T Mullins)
3 Augherskea (N Meade)
4 Back Nine (R H Alner (in GB))
5 Bagan (FR) (C J Mann (in GB))
6 Blazing Liss (J E Kiely)
7 Brewster (I Williams (in GB))
8 Briareus (GB) (A M Balding (in GB))
9 Chilling Place (P J Hobbs (in GB))
10 Church Island (M Hourigan)
11 Daly Said It (A J Martin)
12 Django (Mrs J Harrington)
13 Doctor Linton (M J P O'Brien)
14 Forager (GB) (M J Ryan (in GB))
15 Gold Medallist (GB) (P J Hobbs (in GB))
16 Homer Wells (W P Mullins)
17 In Compliance (M J P O'Brien)
18 Incidential (Mrs J Harrington)
19 Keepthedreamalive (GB) (R H Buckler (in GB))
20 Kerryhead Windfarm (M Hourigan)
21 Kill Devil Hill (P Nolan)
22 Leonardo De Vinci (E J O'Grady)
23 Letterman (E J O'Grady)
24 Macs Flamingo (P A Fahy)
25 Major Vernon (W P Mullins)
26 Manorson (O Sherwood (in GB))
27 Mr Babbage (W P Mullins)
28 Our Ben (GB) (W P Mullins)
29 Petertheknot (P Sinnott)
30 Pharviva (M Halford)
31 Pole Star (GB) (J R Fanshawe (in GB))
32 Prins Willem (J R Fanshawe (in GB))
33 Ray Boy (P C O'Connor)
34 Reveillez (GB) (J R Fanshawe (in GB))
35 Romany Prince (GB) (S Gollings (in GB))
36 Royal Paradise (FR) (T Foley)
37 Sher Beau (P Fenton)
38 Shuhood (USA) (P R Webber (in GB)
39 Strangely Brown (E McNamara
40 Sunami Storm (W P Mullins)
41 Teeming Rain (C F Swan)
42 The Railway Man (A L T Moore)
43 Victom's Chance (N T Chance (in GB))
44 Washington Lad (P A Fahy)
45 Wild Passion (GER) (N Meade)


At The Races and Ladbrokes have launched a live video stream service on the Ladbrokes.com website that allows internet customers to watch any ATR broadcast race free of charge once they have placed a minimum £5 bet.

The pioneering 'Bet and Watch' live service creates a simple pop up video on users' PC screens through which the live ATR TV broadcast video is then streamed. The stream is activated two minutes before the start time of each race and lasts for ten minutes.

"This is a revolution for the internet punter who doesn't have access to a TV" said Matthew Imi, Chief Executive of At The Races. "It's an incredibly convenient and simple service for the punter to use, and it's completely free. For the bookmaker, the streaming of live video is a tremendous marketing tool to drive traffic to a betting based website and will undoubtedly yield incremental turnover."

"There is no subscription or registration required to use the Bet and Watch live service. Customers simply log onto the Ladbrokes.com site in the usual way, place their bet and then click on an icon to see the live video feed appear," he added.

Currently, the At The Races 'Bet and Watch' live service is available exclusively on Ladbrokes.com but At The Races is already in talks with its various bookmaker partners who are keen to host a similar product.

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