No Shocks…Dozen in Champion
Daily Mirror - 2010-03-15
Noel Meade’s dream of winning the £1m WBX.com Triple Crown bonus with Go Native is on track after the seven-year-old was one of a dozen horses declared for tomorrow’s first day Cheltenham highlight, the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle.
Meade sent his string out on exercise yesterday morning – led by Go Native – in perfect conditions and clerk of the course Simon Claisse has not found it necessary to water the course since last Thursday.
The going is described as good to soft, good in places on both Old and New courses and good, good to soft in places on the cross country course. “The course is in good nick,” said an excited Claisse yesterday. “We haven’t completely ruled out putting a little extra irrigation on the New course – which races on Thursday and Friday – yet. We haven’t done that today. We will have a look at the forecast tomorrow.”
Leading Champion Hurdle hope Solwhit, who has overcome a late health scare, was one of the main arrivals on what was a busy morning at the track yesterday. “We’ve had several connections, including Alan King, Paul Webber and Rober Waley-Cohen, doing their Sunday walk round the course and they all report it to be in great nick,” added Claisse.
Go Native appeared in great form during his leg stretch yesterday morning as bookies began to walk their boxes concerning possible monster payouts.
David Williams of Ladbrokes was sweating up more than most and fears his firm will know its fate barely five minutes after this year’s festival gets underway at 1.30 tomorrow.
“We’ve 26 races and four long days in store, but somebody forgot to tell the bookies,” admitted Williams. “Ladbrokes can’t see past the first race tomorrow in which Irish hotpot Dunguib lines up at 4-5. “I’m certain the Festival knock-out blow could be dealt in the first minutes into the marathon punting week. We can’t see past the curtain-raiser and neither can the Irish. They’ve already backed this horse off the boards and we’re fully expecting to be under siege tomorrow lunchtime. “It’s a time to be brave but I’d be lying if I weren’t to admit to being nervous. I checked our liabilities last night and my eyes started to water. “If Dunguib scoots in, it’ll be a wretched start to the week. If Captain Cee Bee and Go Native follow up for the Irish we might call it quits tomorrow night and spend the rest of the week in a darkened room. “If the Euros coming over from Ireland are any guide it’s going to take an Act of Parliament to stop Barry Fenton’s wonder horse. We took a view against the horse when he won last month and will be praying for his hurdling to come unstuck. Kauto Star and Denman seems awfully long way away just now. “Our eyes are firmly fixed on the opener and we only hope we’re not done and dusted after just five minutes!”
David Hood of William Hill endorsed those sentiments saying: “Bookies really are starting on the back foot this year. “These are four outstanding chances for punters to get their teeth into – and each one dominates a day of the Festival. “We can only hope to get one or more of them beaten, but realistically they look like bankers for the punter and if all four win, it will put the bookies on their knees. Punters won’t be able to carry it all home!”
While the likes of Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson are expected to be the trainers to spend most time in the winner’s enclosure this week, Robin Dickin, a trainer on a far smaller scale, is looking forward to running Restless Harry in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on Friday.
Restless Harry is prominent in the betting for the three-mile contest at around 7-1 having won in style over the course in January. “We’re nearly there and everything is going very smoothly,” the Stratford handler confirmed yesterday. “I feel fairly assured if we don't have any rain the course are going to water and that the ground will be on the easy side of good. “He has won on good and certainly working on turf at home he seem to really enjoy it and stretch. I don't think the ground will affect him. “We’ve done everything we can to mirror image his run at Cheltenham on January 30 and mirror image the build-up as we felt he was superb on the day. “We are more or less doing exactly the same exercise, the same feed and all the build-up for Friday as we did to that day. “I’m very excited. I have every reason to believe he will run a very big race. Having won a qualifier in that manner, what else could you run him in or go for? “There’s a lot of horses in the race with unbeaten records like David Pipe’s Chartreux and the horses from Ireland. “There are a lot of unknowns in the race whereas my fellow is fairly exposed, but he was just beaten at Newbury in the Challow when I hadn’t particularly trained him for the race and then winning in magnificent style at Cheltenham when he was specifically prepared for the race. “I’m hoping he can put up a very good show against all of them but it is the racehorse Olympics and I’m not going there being bullish. “But I can assure anyone who wants a little bet on him that he will go there in magnificent order.”
Phillip Hobbs has confirmed Imperial Cup winner Qaspal is fit enough to chase the £75,000 Paddy Power bonus this week, but doubts his hurdler will get a run.
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