Racing: Noble Request to confirm high ranking among Elite

Yesterday at Down Royal, Iktitaf added his name to the already-impressive list of Irish-trained Champion Hurdle contenders with an insolently easy success. This afternoon at Wincanton, a clutch of the home side will be presenting their cred-entials as threats to the Hibernian hegemony at Cheltenham. It will be a revealing exercise; the seven runners in the Elite Hurdle include three young turks and a decent yardstick with which to gauge them.

With the greatest respect to Royal Shakespeare, joint-winner of last season's points competition, the Order of Merit, it will be disappointing if he was to repeat his success in the Group 2 contest of 12 months ago for, admirable horse though he is, he is no champion. But he will provide a proper test for the pretenders to the crown, Desert Quest, Noble Request and Faasel.

The first two named were the pick of the talent to emerge from handicap ranks last year. They met once, when Desert Quest proved Noble Request's master in the County Hurdle. Just how well-treated the winner was that day was revealed a week ago at Ascot, where he put up a stunning performance to win off top weight without coming off the bridle, earning a 16lb hike in the ratings in the process.

Noble Request made his own rapid progress last term; after his Festival effort he beat Faasel in the Scottish Champion Hurdle and then, on 15lb worse terms, confirmed his superiority over that rival - who tries again today - in a valuable contest at Sandown, showing a remarkable change of gear from off the pace to do so. Desert Quest has fitness on his side but Noble Request (3.55), considered the best hurdler in Philip Hobbs' yard, may just be the better horse.

However Desert Quest fares, the Paul Nicholls stable should be on the mark in its own back yard with hurdling debutant Kicks For Free (1.05), placed in the prestige bumpers at both Cheltenham and Aintree, and Turko (2.10), who won in such taking style at Aintree last month and gets the age allowance. Their stablemate Ladalko will start favourite for the fencing feature, the Badger Ales Trophy, but Henry Daly-trained Alderburn (3.20), a progressive staying novice last season, could be a value alternative with the first-time assistance of Tony McCoy.

Iktitaf, at 1-7, had little more than a piece of paid exercise as he disposed of old rival Davenport Democrat by two lengths that could have been 22 at Down Royal yesterday; Noel Meade's charge now heads for a more severe test, next month's Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

The star turn at the Northern Ireland track today will also be an odds-on shot. The Gold Cup king War Of Attrition, who blew the cobwebs away when winning at Punchestown last month, faces six in the James Nicholson Champion Chase. And the first Grade 1 contest of the campaign looks his for the taking, despite the presence of at least three worthy opponents, Beef Or Salmon, Justified and Sir Oj.

With a first jockeys' championship for Ryan Moore and a ninth in the trainers' division for Sir Michael Stoute, the domestic Flat turf season limps to a close this afternoon at Windsor. Those at Godolphin will have the rather more valuable purses in Kentucky this evening primarily on their minds, but the footsoldiers here can celebrate the blues' sixth owners title with CENTAURUS (2.30, nap) and Scriptwriter (3.40), in the 127th edition of the traditional seasonal finale, the November Handicap. The venerable 12-furlong race, which in its heyday used to provide some great end-of-term gambles, has been run at Manchester, Pontefract and Doncaster, but never before on a southern course. But in one way it has returned to its roots in a soggy riverside setting.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Beau Nash (Windsor 3.40)

NB: Violette (Windsor 3.05)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power