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Monday, September 8, 2003


A total of 15 entries remain at today's confirmation stage for Saturday's Seabiscuit St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster - the 227th renewal of the world's oldest classic.

Britain's fifth and final classic, run over an extended one mile and six furlongs, goes to post at 3.35pm and is the feature event of the four-day Seabiscuit St. Leger Festival, which runs from Wednesday, September 10, and concludes on Saturday, September 13.

All of the leading fancies for the £400,000 event have stood their ground including Salsalino, who is set to become Alan King's first runner in a classic and Group One event.

The Wiltshire-based trainer is unfazed by his most important contestant on the Flat.

"The only Group runner I've had was Salsalino who was fourth in the Group Three Gordon Stakes [at Goodwood]. But I'm feeling fine and very excited at the prospect - I'm not wound up at all and I'm looking forward to it," enthused King.

"His work will very much be routine now. He worked on Saturday and he'll do a little bit on Wednesday but it's really just a case of keeping him ticking over."

Asked when he first thought of the Salse colt as a possible Seabiscuit St. Leger candidate, the handler responded: "After Royal Ascot [when the short-head runner-up in the King George V Stakes] we started thinking about it really - we thought he's going to benefit from going a mile and six furlongs and we stuck him in the Leger when the entries came out and took it from there."

Steven Clarke, Doncaster's Racecourse Manager, said: "The current going is good to firm, good in places. We're getting a bit of drizzle at the moment but hopefully the going will stay as it is because these are ideal conditions.

"It is fantastic that all of the big guns have stood their ground in the Seabiscuit St. Leger Stakes and it's lovely to have Brian Boru coming back to Town Moor to compete in the final classic after winning last year's Racing Post Trophy, especially as Aidan O'Brien won the big race in Ireland on Saturday with High Chaparral."

Saturday's seven-race programme also features the £60,000 Group Two Polypipe Flying Childers Stakes (1.50pm), over five furlongs, which has attracted 15 of the fastest two-year-olds around at today's five-day stage.

The William Haggas-trained Majestic Missile is likely to take a leading hand in proceedings. The Royal Applause colt has won three times over the minimum trip this season, including in the Group Three Betfair Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood on the last day of July, before coming unstuck when a two-length sixth behind Balmont when running over a furlong further in the Group Two Scottish Equitable Gimcrack Stakes at York last month.

Majestic Missile will not have things all his own way as David Loder could run Howick Falls, another possible who relishes five furlongs as he proved when winning the Listed Costcutter Roses Stakes at York on August 20, when proving three and a half lengths too powerful for If Paradise.

There are three competitive £20,000-added events for lovers of handicaps including the Porcelanosa Rated Stakes (2.20pm) over a mile, the ladbrokes.com Handicap (2.50pm) over 10 furlongs and the Torne Valley Farm & Country Store Handicap (4.15pm) over a mile and a half.

The Porcelanosa Rated Stakes has received 34 entries including the Terry Mills-trained Norton, who won last season's Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, while 50 possibles have been entered for the ladbrokes.com Handicap and among them is the progressive Crow Wood, who has won three of his five starts in 2003 including the National Festival Circus Is Here Today Handicap on his seasonal bow at Town Moor in May.

The Torne Valley Farm & Country Store Handicap has 28 entries including the Sir Mark Prescott-trained Foreign Affairs, who won the John Smith's Cup at York in 2001 and gained his last victory in the Sunday is Funday' Conditions Stakes at Doncaster last season. The day is opened by the GNER Conditions Stakes (1.20pm), which has attracted 22 hopefuls, and closed by the Trilogy Nightclub Doncaster Nursery (50 entries) at 4.45pm

LATEST WILLIAM HILL ST LEGER PRICES: ST LEGER: 2-1 Brian Boru (from 6-4), 11-2 Phoenix Reach (from 7-1), 7-1 Hawk Flyer (from 9-1), 8-1 Moments of Joy (from 7-1), Maharib, Westmoreland Road (from 12-1), 9-1 High Accolade, 10-1 Salsalino (from 12-1), 16-1 Summitville (from 14-1), 25-1 Let Me Try Again (from 20-1), 33-1 Wavetree Boy, 50-1 Gold Medallist, 100-1 Santando, Titurel


British Racing has united to produce a comprehensive and detailed rebuttal of the Rule 14 Notice issued by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in April. The sport believes there is no foundation for the OFT's charge that racing fails to comply with competition law.

In addition, British Racing believes that the OFT's investigation process was flawed by an unwillingness to objectively gather and assess evidence and a determination from the outset to find the sport guilty.

British Racing's response was drawn up by a working group of the sport's stakeholders, including the Racecourse Association and Racehorse Owners Association. The paper was agreed by the working group and also by the main board of the British Horseracing Board (BHB), the sport's governing authority.

Greg Nichols, BHB Chief Executive, said: "Racing's stakeholders have worked together to develop a response to the OFT that can command wide support across the sport. We have sought the views of many different people and organisations within racing to achieve this objective. We believe both the findings of the OFT's Rule 14 Notice and the process behind them are wrong."

British Racing has evolved and changed throughout its history and will continue to do so. There are more fixtures, races, horses, owners, runners and racegoers than ten years ago. There are now more evening fixtures and Sunday racing and next year the first new course opens in the UK for over 75 years. Betting turnover and prize money have grown in value to record levels and attendances are the highest since the 1950s.

Greg Nichols added: "Support for British Racing has increased because the sport has evolved and worked together to deliver a world class product that more and more consumers want to enjoy. The OFT is supposed to promote the interests of consumers, but it has taken a view that will have the opposite effect.

"If the OFT has its way and completely unravels the current system of governance and administration, the implications would be disastrous - courses will close, jobs will be lost, National Hunt racing will be almost wiped out, overseas investment in our sport will be lost and the quality of racing will decline. This is not in the interests of the millions of consumers who love and follow racing.

"There is not another racing country in the world that operates the type of free-for-all system that the OFT wants to introduce in the UK. They all think we would be mad to go down that road because it will pit different parts of the sport against each other, trigger off a spiral of decline and damage the consumer interest."


Sunday 21 September

Further plans have been announced for Best Mate's Charity Open Day (Sunday 21 September), which will provide racing and equestrian enthusiasts with a rare opportunity to see Dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Best Mate, and his 80 strong team of stable mates, at Henrietta Knight's training yard,West Lockinge Farm, Wantage, Oxon. The event will feature:

* The Sporting Index Charity Auction for which the top lot will be a one-off, tailormade glass presentation display box uniquely incorporating two of Best Mate's racing plates (one from each of his Gold Cup winning years, 2002 and 2003) - along with a colour photograph of Best Mate and engraved autographs from: Henrietta Knight, Terry Biddlecombe, Jim Lewis (his owner), Jim Culloty (his Gold-Cup winning jockey) and Best Mate's farrier, Mervyn Richings.

The support auction items will include: a case of Best Mate Champagne, specially labelled for the occasion and donated by Alstons Furniture; and a signed football donated by Aston Villa Football Club and kindly arranged by the one of the Club's biggest fans, Jim Lewis.

* A new Best Mate Collection of souvenirs and gifts which will be on sale for the first time, all in aid of the event's nominated charities. The Collection includes what is believed to be the first Talking Greetings Card commemorating a great racehorse - you simply open it up to hear the commentary of Best Mate winning last year's Gold Cup!

* A chance to see all the horses first hand - including Best Mate, Edredon Bleu and other stable favourites and National Hunt stars of the future - both as they parade in the morning, and in the yard during the afternoon.

* A range of other attractions including: the Aintree Simulator, Falconry and Dog Agility Displays, 'Beat the Jockeys' Bucking Bronco competition, Childrens' Entertainment and Trade Stands

Commented Henrietta Knight: "Best Mate is now back in regular work and building himself up for another tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup next March. He is in great form and looking forward to his Open Day."

All proceeds from the day will go to: The Injured Jockeys Fund, The International League for the Protection of Horses and Best Mate's owner, Jim Lewis's, nominated charity - "The Gentlemen's Night Out'. Gates will open 9.30am (Close 4.30pm). Admission will be £10 on the gate (under 12s free). For further information call Best Mate's Information Line on 01793-710707 or visit www.bestmate.info for full details and news of the event.

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

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