ALL THE LATEST NEWS AHEAD OF THE PUNCHESTOWN FESTIVAL
Trainer Henry Daly today confirmed that Mighty Man - rated the best hurdler to have run this season by the Racing Post - is set to line up in the EUR200,000 Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown on Thursday, April 26.
The seven-year-old won the John Smith’s Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree last week by an effortless 13 lengths and Daly is looking forward to Punchestown.
“I’m very happy with him after Aintree and he’ll go to Punchestown. He doesn’t want soft ground but that looks unlikely anyway,” said Daly.
“The official handicapper has put him up 7lb to 172, which doesn’t really make any difference as he won’t run in a handicap, but you’ve got to be delighted to have a horse that good.
“It will be interesting to see what happens if Hardy Eustace and Al Eile run. They’re all good horses and that’s what racing’s about - running good horses against each other.”
SUBLIMITY GOING FOR CHAMPION
The Grade 1 ACCBank Champion Hurdle on Friday, April 27, promises to be one of the races of the 2007 Irish National Hunt Festival and trainer John Carr today confirmed that he hopes to run Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle winner Sublimity in the EUR200,000 contest.
“I couldn’t be happier with him after Cheltenham. He’s the champion and I believe he can come out on top again. I might bring him back a bit earlier next season and it will be a light campaign again,” said Carr.
“Hopefully he can give me my fourth winner at the Punchestown Festival. I had one in 1990 and then Roadmaker won the three-mile handicap hurdle last year and Stutter won the two-mile handicap hurdle the year before.”
Punchestown’s course continues to be watered and Carr added that the seven-year-old would not want the ground to be too fast.
“He’s an intended runner providing the ground is right for him. We’ve kept him cantering and doing a bit of work. He’ll work again tomorrow and then do an easy bit on Friday and a bit the following Tuesday,” added the trainer.
“I believe they’re doing a very good job watering but we’ll need a drop of rain as well for him to take his chance as it would have to be on the soft side of good.”
Trainer Jessica Harrington confirmed that Macs Joy - who finished second on the Flat at the Curragh on Sunday - is set to line up in the ACCBank Champion Hurdle.
“Mac’s Joy is very much on course for the ACCBank Champion Hurdle. I was delighted with his run at the Curragh - absolutely thrilled with him. He showed that he’s come back fine after missing Cheltenham and he’s very good in himself today,” said Harrington.
“He loves good ground and it would be absolutely brilliant if he could repeat last year’s win. Barry (Geraghty) will ride him as always.”
CORK ALL STAR, GEMINI LUCY AND MOSCOW FLYER ALL ON COURSE FOR PUNCHESTOWN
Cork All Star, winner of Cheltenham’s Weatherbys Champion Bumper in March, is set to bid for a fifth successive victory in the Grade 1 Paddy Power Champion INH Flat Race at Punchestown on Wednesday, April 25.
“Cork All Star has pleased me since Cheltenham and will go in the Bumper. He’s looking to maintain his unbeaten record and is in very good form,” said trainer Jessica Harrington. “He’s won on firm ground so there are no ground provisos with him.”
Meanwhile, the mare Gemini Lucy, a 17-length handicap chase winner at Fairyhouse on April 10, is to step up to Grade 1 company for the Swordlestown Cup Novice Chase on Thursday, April 26.
“I’m very happy with Gemini Lucy after Fairyhouse so she will head to the Swordlestown Cup. Andrew Leigh will ride her and also most likely Hide The Evidence, who is on course for running in the vcbet.com Champion Novice Hurdle on Tuesday.”
Meanwhile the great Moscow Flyer, a winner seven times over fences and hurdles at Punchestown, has been brought out of retirement to run in the Diageo Punchestown Private Charity Sweepstakes on Friday, April 27.
Mrs Harrington’s daughter Kate is set to ride the 13-year-old to raise funds for the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund (www.pkrf.ie).
“Moscow Flyer is in great form. It’s been over a year since he last raced and I think he’ll love it. He’s doing it for the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund and hopefully people will want to donate to that,” said Harrington.
“My daughter Kate has never ridden in a race before so she’s got the honour of riding him, which is brilliant. She rides him out at home and has ridden work on him a couple of times so she’s really looking forward to it.”
GOING IS CURRENTLY GOOD
The going is currently GOOD at Punchestown ahead of next week’s Irish National Hunt Festival, running from Tuesday, April 24, to Friday, April 27.
Richie Galway, Punchestown’s Racing Manager, said: “The ground is currently Good on the chase and hurdle tracks following extensive watering since last Friday.
“Over 1.5 million gallons of water have already been applied to the track and watering will continue to maintain Good ground in advance and throughout the Festival. We are very conscious that the ground needs to be good safe jumping ground over the four days and we will ensure that is the case.”
CLASSIC STARS WORK AT NEWMARKET TOMORROW
Tomorrow (Wednesday) sees the start of Newmarket's season with the first day of the Craven Meeting, but the runners in the afternoon's seven races will not be the only horses on the track - Sixties Icon, Simply Perfect and Authorized will all work before racing.
At 12.40pm, the Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained Authorized, who is strongly fancied for the Vodafone Derby and is also entered for the Stan James 2000 Guineas, will work on the course under Frankie Dettori. At 1pm, Jeremy Noseda will work last year's Ladbrokes St Leger winner, Sixties Icon, and one of his Stan James 1000 Guineas hopes, Simply Perfect. Again Frankie Dettori will be in the saddle on one of Noseda's charges.
In the afternoon's big race, the Shadwell Nell Gwyn Stakes, Noseda and Dettori will team up again when hot favourite Sander Camillo will make her seasonal reappearance, while Dettori and Chapple-Hyam will team up with Hamoody in the Sporting Index European Free Handicap.
The going on the NatWest Rowley Mile remains Good-to-Firm, with a going stick reading of 9.0. "We finished watering the track today with the aim of ensuring safe ground and now we are all set for a fantastic two days of racing," said Director of Racing, Michael Prosser.
NIC COWARD ISSUES UPDATE ON KEY MATTERS
Nic Coward, Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Board (BHB) and Horseracing Regulatory Authority (HRA), gave a media briefing in central London today, at which a number of announcements were made. This followed meetings on Monday of the Directors-designate of the new British Horseracing Authority, as well as the Boards of BHB and the HRA, and the news that Paul Roy will assume the role of BHB Chairman.
Progress with the British Horseracing Authority
"Racing has a 'fit for purpose', unified governing and regulatory body now operating as one team, moving in one direction. We have a new, independent structure and I know other sports are looking across at Racing and what has been achieved. We will be here to lead, to challenge, and to deliver the best for Racing.
"All of us are frustrated at the number of acronyms currently in existence, but we are very keen, as fast as possible, to operate as the British Horseracing Authority. We are at the final stages, but we have to find the right solution to the Pension Scheme issue."
Grand National Meeting
"Yesterday's Board meetings followed a weekend in which the nation was gripped by the Grand National.
"I was not happy at the way the start went, no-one was, but we have said we will look at this. What we should be focusing on is that on Racing's big day our sport clearly demonstrated that horse welfare will be put first, even if it means a day's programme will be disrupted. I would like to pay tribute to both the HRA and racecourse veterinary teams, particularly racecourse vet Alasdair Topp.
"Our team has been in regular contact with the vets at the Philip Leverhulme Equine Hospital at Leahurst where Graphic Approach is being looked after, and I am delighted to report that he continues to recuperate and they are looking at sending him home next week. The team there has carried on the excellent work of the veterinary teams at Aintree.
"The first big appointment for the new organisation will be a new Director of Veterinary Science of Welfare, covering all strands of our work and aimed at the best possible care for the horse.
"I could not talk about the Grand National without praising the outstanding work of Andrew Tulloch and his team in achieving such good, safe ground despite the unseasonably warm and dry weather - an example of track management of the highest order."
Jockeys' Working Restrictions
The HRA Board on Monday approved the new rule that will limit Flat jockeys to riding at a maximum of nine meetings a week for a trial commencing on Saturday 21st April until the end of the evening racing period.
"We are taking a clear stance, and have worked with the Jockeys Association of Great Britain to develop the trial. Our approach does not stem from a desire to impose unnecessary restrictions on riders, but from listening to jockeys and a desire to promote the welfare of Racing's participants."
"The HRA Board approved the Working Group's recommendations yesterday and we will be publishing the results in the next few weeks. We must all understand what is on the right and wrong sides of the line, particularly with new law that will make cheating a criminal offence coming into force in September, which will affect everybody. We need to protect the sport and that's why we've led the way in this area. It's taken longer than we had hoped but that reflects the importance and complexity of the issue."
Sale of the Tote
"Following yesterday's Board meetings, we have been asked by the racecourses and owners to get involved in the process. Paul Roy will lead on this, providing a fresh input to help achieve the best for Racing after a protracted process."
Request for Extra Fixtures / Turf TV
"We have formally received a number of requests from racecourses for extra fixtures, but we will not be sanctioning them, and won't grant additional meetings on the basis of whether or not particular bookmakers choose to show particular fixtures. It is not what we are here to do on behalf of British Horseracing."
Strategic Review of the Fixture List
"The first few weeks have been the start of a listening period. One message that has come through loud and clear is that there is a need for a root and branch review of the Fixture List. This will be driven by the new BHA Board, which sees it as a key priority.
"There will be no 'sacred cows'. We will focus on what we want the Fixture List to deliver. We need to know what Racing's real objectives are, design our seasons accordingly and work hard to promote them with our partners in innovative ways. The Order of Merit should be entrenched within the calendar, and responsibility for its commercial success now passes to Racing Enterprises Ltd.
"The new Board, with its experience, knows this won't be easy, but we are here to take the lead in the best interests of British Horseracing. It will be an open process, and we will be inviting everyone with an interest in Racing to contribute their views.
"We have to be about creating the quality events that grip the nation, and bringing to life the many amazing stories that Racing delivers on a daily basis. We must also work to attract more punters to bet on British Horseracing. This is all about finding the optimal fixture programme to achieve all these objectives."
VODAFONE DERBY CLUES?
There are likely to be plenty of Vodafone Derby clues on offer this week, as the Flat turf season really starts to click into gear with the Craven Meeting at Newmarket this week on Wednesday and Thursday, April 18 & 19.
Newmarket’s opening day card features the Listed Connaught Access Flooring Feilden Stakes over nine furlongs, for which eight runners have been declared, five of whom hold an entry in the Epsom Classic on June 2.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Al Shemali scored readily at Newcastle on his second start last term, while Petara Bay, from the Terry Mills stable, was last seen running behind Authorized in the Group One Racing Post Trophy at Newbury. Massive, Hearthstead Maison and Salford Mill are also on trial for the Vodafone Derby.
Erhaab, the 1994 Vodafone Derby hero, finished runner-up in the Feilden Stakes previously, while Twist And Turn and Border Arrow have both taken the Newmarket contest before going on to perform very well at Epsom.
The opening race on Newmarket’s Wednesday card, the 10-furlong Xplor Maiden Stakes, sees five Vodafone Derby entries go to post, including Broomielaw, runner-up at Newmarket on his only outing last season and owned by Lady Ferguson, wife of Manchester United manager Sir Alex. Arabian Gulf, Rhaam, Spice Route and The Carlton Cannes will also be out to put themselves in the frame for Epsom.
Commander In Chief took this prize back in 1993 en route to Epsom Classic glory, while Greek Dance was successful in 1998 and progressed to run fifth behind High-Rise in Flat racing’s blue riband.
Another fascinating Vodafone Derby testing ground at Newmarket on Thursday, April 19, is the Group Three banshahousestables.com Craven Stakes. Adagio, as low as 16/1 for the Vodafone-sponsored Classic, could represent Sir Michael Stoute, while Big Robert, Asperity, Brave Tin Soldier, Broghill, Champery and Yazamaan are all Derby entries.
Newbury hosts its first Flat meeting of the 2007 season on Friday and Saturday, April 20 & 21, and one of the most interesting races on the first day card in terms of potential Vodafone Derby pointers is the closing Peter Smith Memorial Maiden Stakes.
Last year’s renewal witnessed a fine debut performance from the Michael Jarvis-trained Hala Bek, who showed too many gears for Geoff Wragg’s Dragon Dancer.
At Epsom subsequently, Dragon Dancer found only Sir Percy a short-head too strong in a pulsating finish, while Hala Bek, who finished fourth, would almost certainly have gone close to winning but for veering badly right inside the final 100 yards. The trio of Arabian Gulf, Hesivorthedriver and Rock ‘N’ Roller would be hoping to advertise their Classic claims at Newbury.
Also at Newbury on Friday is the 10-furlong Dubai Duty Free Gold World Cup Conditions Stakes. John Gosden’s Asperity - a general 33/1 chance for Epsom - the unbeaten Boscobel, trained by Mark Johnston, and the Mick Channon-trained Go On Be A Tiger, successful on his sole start at two, all hold entries in the Vodafone Derby, along with Kid Mambo and Pippa Greene.
Let The Lion Roar, the 2004 winner of this race, went on to finish an excellent third to North Light in the Vodafone Derby.
This media pack also announces 33 entries for the Group One Vodafone Coronation Cup, run on Ladies’ Day, June 1, at Epsom Downs, as well as having details of the first main Vodafone Derby trials and the entries for the premier Classic.
ARC HERO RAIL LINK TOPS 33 ENTRIES FOR VODAFONE CORONATION CUP
Last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe hero Rail Link is just one of the star names among a superb 33-strong entry for the Group One £250,000 Vodafone Coronation Cup, run over 12 furlongs at Epsom Downs on Friday, June 1, the first day of the Vodafone Derby Festival 2007 and Ladies’ Day.
The son of Dansili, who held off the late challenge of Pride to take the Longchamp showpiece in October, could bid to give France’s champion trainer Andre Fabre a remarkable seventh success in the Epsom Group One event, having notched win number six with Shirocco who beat the remarkable mare Ouija Board last year.
Fabre has also entered Linda’s Lad, ninth to Sir Percy in last year’s Vodafone Derby, and Vison Celebre, successful on his sole start at Longchamp in April last year.
Sir Percy lifted the Vodafone Derby in June in a pulsating finish under Martin Dwyer and could bid for another Epsom Group One, having run well on his comeback when fourth in the Group One Dubai Sheema Classic at Nad Al Sheba on March 31, one place behind the Mick Channon-trained Youmzain.
Brilliant filly Alexandrova, who landed the 2006 Vodafone Oaks at Epsom Downs in sensational style by six lengths from Rising Cross before following up in the Irish and Yorkshire versions, heads five entries for Irish supremo Aidan O’Brien.
She is joined by Yeats, the 2006 Ascot Gold Cup victor who took the Vodafone Coronation Cup in 2005 under a fine tactical ride from Kieren Fallon, Dylan Thomas, who captured the Irish Derby and the Irish Champion Stakes last term and made an impressive return when winning the Listed Alleged Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday, 2005 St Leger winner Scorpion and last year’s Dante Stakes scorer Septimus.
Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor sent out Daylami (1999) and Mutafaweq (2001) to land the Vodafone Coronation Cup and he has six entries to choose from this year, including three-time Group One winner Cherry Mix, last year’s Vodafone Oaks third Short Skirt, and Tam Lin, who showed progressive form last season when trained by Sir Michael Stoute.
The Freemason Lodge handler, who has landed the Vodafone Coronation Cup four times with Saddler’s Hall (1992), Opera House (1993), Singspiel (1997) and Daliapour (2000), could run the tough six-year-old Maraahel, who scored a dramatic victory in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot last season, and Papal Bull, successful in the King Edward VII Stakes at the same meeting.
The Jeremy Noseda-trained Sixties Icon ran very well when seventh in last year’s Vodafone Derby and went on to take the St Leger at York, while Clive Brittain, on the mark two years running in the Vodafone Coronation Cup with Warrsan (2003 & 2004), could field the consistent Hattan, Warrsan’s half-brother.
Other fascinating entries include Sir Mark Prescott’s Confidential Lady, who stormed home in the Group One Prix de Dianne at Chantilly last year, Richard Fahey’s improving filly Anna Pavlova, who hacked up in Listed company at Navan on her seasonal reappearance on April 1, and immensely popular stayer Sergeant Cecil, trained by Rod Millman, who hit the Group One jackpot in the Prix du Cadran at Longchamp in October.
The six Irish entries also include Jim Bolger’s Heliostatic, a Group Three winner at Leopardstown in 2006 and third behind Dylan Thomas on Sunday, while Montare, who captured the Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp in October for Jonathan Pease, is among the six-strong French entry.
Stephen Wallis, Managing Director at Epsom Downs, said: “We are absolutely thrilled with the quality of the entries for the Vodafone Coronation Cup, one of the most prestigious middle-distance races in Europe for older horses.
“Champions of the calibre of Rail Link, Sir Percy and Alexandrova, not forgetting 2005 hero Yeats, really emphasise what a fantastic event the Vodafone Coronation Cup is, and I am looking forward to a tremendous clash at Epsom Downs on June 1, in what promises to be a brilliant start to the Vodafone Derby Festival 2007.”
THE VODAFONE CORONATION CUP
Class 1, Group 1, £250,000 Total Prize Fund. Epsom Downs, Friday, June 1, 2007. For four-year-olds and upwards, 1m 4f 10yds. Weights: colts & geldings 9st; fillies 8st 11lb. Entries closed April 4, entries announced April 17 (33 entries), forfeit stage May 15, £20,000 supplementary entry stage and six-day confirmation stage May 26, final declaration stage, 10.00am, May 30. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Sunday, April 15, 2007.
Form Horse Age Owner Trainer
2/21113- ALEXANDROVA (IRE) 4 Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith
Aidan O'Brien IRE
61212-1 ANNA PAVLOVA 4 Galaxy Racing Richard Fahey
12/145- ART DECO (IRE) 4 Exors of the Late Mrs E A Hankinson Charles Egerton
210203- BALKAN KNIGHT 7 Raymond Tooth David Elsworth
2014-40 BEST NAME 4 Godolphin Saeed bin Suroor
661631- CHERRY MIX (FR) 6 Godolphin Saeed bin Suroor
261552- CONFIDENTIAL LADY 4 Cheveley Park Stud Sir Mark Prescott
31131-3 DARAMSAR (FR) 4 H H Aga Khan Alain de Royer Dupre FR
212/124- DAY FLIGHT 6 Khalid Abdulla John Gosden
13141(4)-1 DYLAN THOMAS (IRE) 4 Sue Magnier & Michael Tabor Aidan O'Brien
140322- GOWER SONG 4 Usk Valley Stud David Elsworth
Irish Thoroughbred Marketing (ITM) is delighted to announce its sponsorship of the 2007 Cherry Hinton Stakes at Newmarket’s prestigious Ritz Club July Festival. This Group 2 fillies’ event has been won in the recent past by such stars as Attraction and this year’s Stan James 1000 Guineas favourite, Sander Camillo.
Irish Thoroughbred Marketing is committed to supporting British racing and in addition to Newmarket, ITM has expanded its sponsorship portfolio to include races at Stratford, Perth, York and Salisbury.
Commenting on the latest sponsorship, ITM’s Chief Executive, Michael O’Hagan, said: “We had been looking for an opportunity at Newmarket, the home of British Racing, for some time and we are delighted to support a race as distinguished as the Cherry Hinton.”
Lisa Hancock, Newmarket’s Managing Director, added: “We are twinned with The Curragh and are thrilled to be strengthening our ties with Ireland still further through this sponsorship. The Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cherry Hinton Stakes will be one of the highlights of our summer programme on the redeveloped July Course.”