Racing: Bolger so proud as Spot stays sprightly

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The cross-country specialist Spot Thedifference defied his rising years to take the Sporting Index Steeple Chase on the first day of Cheltenham's Open meeting yesterday. Enda Bolger's 12-year-old won all three such events staged atthe course last season.

"I'm so proud of him," Bolger said. "The plan will be to come back here in December and then for the cross-country race at the Festival - just like last year.

Martin Pipe's Celtic Son was expected to follow up last week's Wincanton win in the novices' chase and started at odds of 8-13. But although Timmy Murphy's mount jumped well, he failed to quicken up the hill and could not reach front-running 12-1 chance Church Island, who gave the travelling Irish punters more to cheer about as he won in the Beef Or Salmon colours.