Racing: Chives adds flavour to pursuit of Gold bonus

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The Independent Online

The hope as well as the horses will be springing at Wetherby tomorrow, when a sumptuous bonus arrives in conjunction with the first notable staying chase of the season, the Charlie Hall Chase.

The hope as well as the horses will be springing at Wetherby tomorrow, when a sumptuous bonus arrives in conjunction with the first notable staying chase of the season, the Charlie Hall Chase.

The race sponsors, Bet365, are offering a £100,000 bounty and are clearly not keen to release it too easily. To scoop the pool the victor of tomorrow's contest also has to collect the big one, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

That is not to say that identifiable names have not been attracted to Yorkshire now that the rains have arrived to provide more authentic National Hunt ground. Valley Henry is still on the way up and will not be the least effective animal to emerge from Paul Nicholls' much decorated yard this season, while Marlborough, who may now be on the other side of the mountain, remains capable of fine form at the highest level.

A new ingredient was thrown into the pot yesterday with the announcement that we may also be getting a sprinkling of Chives, Henrietta Knight's talented stayer. Yet his presence merely serves to advertise how difficult it will be to complete the second part of the deal.

For there is not just Keen Leader, First Gold and Beef Or Salmon to get past in what appears to be a vintage prospect of a Blue Riband, but also the wonder of West Lockinge, Chives's stablemate, Best Mate.

"It depends on the weather," Knight said yesterday of Chives's participation, "but he definitely won't run if the word firm appears in the going report. Should he miss out on Wetherby I'd like to take him back to Haydock for the Tommy Whittle Chase on the same Sunday as the Open meeting at Cheltenham, a race in which he was second last year."

Chives's notable pieces of form last season were a second to Supreme Glory in the Welsh National at Chepstow, while he also blazed the trail for Best Mate at Cheltenham before fading away in the straight. "He's capable of better," Knight added. "I think he's a very good horse."

A nation is waiting to be stopped in the southern hemisphere, where several stayers of the Flat persuasion have gathered for Tuesday's Melbourne Cup. Just as in the Breeders' Cup series in the United States, Europe is beginning to get a consistent foothold in the event, for which Godolphin's Mamool is favourite in some books.

Frankie Dettori's mount completed his last piece of serious work in company with stablemate Millstreet yesterday at the Sandown racecourse which has been their home for just over a week now.

"I've thought of Mamool as a Melbourne Cup horse ever since he won the Queen's Vase over two miles at Royal Ascot last June, " Saeed bin Suroor, the trainer, said.

Willie Mullins has recently arrived in town to try to provide Ireland with their third win in the race following the exploits of his countryman Dermot Weld, by unlocking the strange cove that has become Holy Orders.

The six-year-old has apparently been on a work-to-rule following his arrival in Melbourne and has yet to break sweat. Tracey Gilmour, Mullins's travelling head groom, has struggled to get the horse out of a walk. He performed a spot of lunging yesterday only after refusing to budge with Gilmour in the saddle.

"He's okay, but he's just not firing at the moment," Mullins said. "He's eating well enough, but he doesn't seem to be enjoying his stay. I got a lot of work into him before we came out here so as long as we can keep him ticking over it should be fine.

"We have no intention of bypassing the race and I think he'll be fine on the day. He's doing plenty of hacking, trotting and lunging. He just won't do any fast work." It happens a lot in racing.

RICHARD EDMONDSON

Nap: Helibel

(Brighton 1.10)

NB: Nawadi

(Newmarket 1.55)

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