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Tuesday, April 26, 2005


A far from foot perfect Moscow Flyer finally lost his unbeaten record when completing over fences after going down by a short-head to Rathgar Beau in a dramatic finish to the Grade 1 Kerrygold Champion Chase.

Many felt a dead-heat would be called after it took the judge more than 10 minutes to split the pair and Dusty Sheehy, Rathgar Beau's trainer, would have been happy to share first prize.

"Watching the replays I thought he was beaten and would have happily settled for a dead-heat," admitted Sheehy, who was landing a first Grade 1 victory.

"I'm delighted for the horse because he's been chasing Moscow Flyer all his life and the luck has finally gone his way this time. I always felt we'd be second today if he was back to his best and that we could maybe rattle Moscow if something like today's race happened.

"He's off out to grass tomorrow and he'll probably start off at Navan as normal next season but maybe not go for the Daily Telegraph Trophy over 2m 5f at Cheltenham again. Shay (Barry) wanted to go for the Queen Mother this year and he was probably right."

Trainer Jessica Harrington was philosophical about Moscow Flyer's defeat and said: "You can't demolish the second last like that and win. Barry (Geraghty) says that he never runs well here and he was very keen but he was like that at Aintree. He was going to get beaten sometime and at least the horse is alright and coming home in one piece.

"Maybe I was being a little greedy going to Cheltenham, Aintree and here but at least we have still got the horse. Rathgar Beau was always going to be a threat so what's the point in being disappointed. I've no idea about next season, we'll get over this one first."

Wild Passion justified 7/4 favouritism in the Grade 1 Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle to just hold off Kill Devil Hill in a photo-finish with trainer Noel Meade believing there could be better to come from the winner.

"I think there's probably a bit more in the locker, he's very relaxed about things," said the successful trainer Noel Meade. "He's just lazy and doesn't concentrate as much as he should and probably doesn't jump as well as he might because he's not concentrating. Even at Cheltenham last time, he was running around a bit."

The five-year-old is also in Friday's 2m 4f Grade 1 Menolly Homes Champion Novice Hurdle and Meade added: "We left him in Friday's race and he could well run - he stays very well. After that we'll possibly school him over fences and see how he gets on."

Cashmans quote Wild Passion at 10/1 for the 2006 Irish Independent Arkle Chase at Cheltenham.

Jockey Paul Carberry was maintaining a 100 per cent record at the 2005 Irish National Hunt Festival having also landed the opening Kildare Hunt Club Chase aboard Davids Lad.

Trainer Tony Martin is contemplating targets such as the Galway Plate and Pardubice in the Czech Republic for the winner and explained: "I got a bit of a fright when he slipped on the first bank but otherwise his jumping was good enough, he's always been a good lepper really. He just can't operate through bad old ground."

Sean Mulryan, whose Ballymore Properties company is a major sponsor at the Irish National Hunt Festival, saw his colours carried to victory by Forget The Past in the Grade 2 Ellier Developments Novice Chase, making up for an unlucky defeat last time out in the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse.

"I thought he was unlucky and shouldn't have been beaten last time," said winning trainer Michael O'Brien. "He's a very good horse and a very good jumper but jockeys just need to learn not to touch his head. He doesn't like it when they try and go in short."


Chester's May Festival - Wednesday, May 4 to Friday, May 6 - has two historic Derby trials, the MBNA Europe Bank Chester Vase and the Dee Stakes sponsored by Aberdeen Murray Johnstone and Halliwells, again this year but it could be for the last time unless trainers and owners back them properly.

Richard Thomas, Chester Racecourse's Chief Executive, commented today: "We need support for the MBNA Europe Bank Chester Vase and the Dee Stakes sponsored by Aberdeen Murray Johnstone and Halliwells to keep the two of them going in the future.

"We have tried hard to encourage runners for both in the last couple of years and this effort needs to be rewarded next week.

"We went over to Ireland recently to talk to the trainers and owners there about the Chester classic trials and received a good response.

"Aidan O'Brien has already made an entry in the totesport Chester Cup and it is very encouraging that he has plans for other runners during the week, including Gypsy King in the Dee Stakes sponsored by Aberdeen Murray Johnstone and Halliwells and Almighty in the MBNA Europe Bank Chester Vase.

"Hopefully, other Irish trainers and owners will make entries too and we have written to British trainers through Weatherbys and, barring the going and the weather which we cannot control, there are really no excuses for not backing these Derby trials."

The MBNA Bank Europe Chester Vase, run over 12 furlongs and 66 yards on Thursday, May 5, and the Dee Stakes sponsored by Aberdeen Murray Johnstone and Halliwells, which takes place over 10 furlongs and 75 yards on Friday, May 6, both close for entries on Saturday, April 30.

Two of the last six Derby winners have won the Dee Stakes - Kris Kin in 2003 and Oath in 1999, while the Vase also has a distinguished record as a trial, with three Derby winners since 1980 - Quest For Fame, Shergar and Henbit.

Chester's two Derby trials, which have Group Three status, each carry £65,000 in prize money, while the top prize for classic trials run elsewhere so far this year has been £50,000.

There were six runners last year in the Chester Vase after seven were declared while three ran in the Dee Stakes following six declarations. The defections came about primarily because the ground softened. The declaration arrangements for both races have changed to 24 hours rather than the 48 hours in existence last year.

The Dee Stakes has new sponsors this year. Aberdeen Murray Johnstone Private Equity (AMJPE) is the private equity division of Aberdeen Asset Managers Limited while Halliwells is one of the UK's leading commercial law firms with offices in Manchester, London, Liverpool and Sheffield.

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