Elsworth vexed by replacement races

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The Independent Online
Trainers have responded positively to the efforts of the British Horseracing Board by supporting the two races added to Cheltenham's New Year's Day card to replace Kempton's Christmas Hurdle and Wetherby's Castleford Chase.

As expected, the David Nicholson-trained Viking Flagship heads the weights for the handicap chase with 11st 10lb and is one of four in the handicap proper. The remaining trio are Ireland's Strong Platinum, Travado and Nakir.

Henderson, who was full of praise for the BHB's initiative, warned that Travado would run only if the ground is good. "We've kept him clear of soft ground so I don't want to start now," the trainer said. "But we must take our hats off to the BHB who have tried extremely hard over this difficult period."

David Elsworth is rather less happy. He trains three of the five horses in the handicap proper in the hurdle: Atours (11st 10lb), Oh So Risky (11st 4lb) and Absalom's Lady (11st 1lb).

"I have just written a letter to the racing papers about my annoyance at the situation in which we lose two Grade One races - the Bula and the Christmas Hurdle - and replace them with a pounds 15,000 handicap. So my horses, instead of meeting their rivals on level terms, will be giving away up to a stone. But I suppose eating peanuts is better than having no food at all."

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