Racing: Passion adds intensity to Tolworth

Wild Passion arrived at Sandown Park yesterday to join the line-up for tomorrow's Tolworth Hurdle which is now guaranteed to be a highly informative guide to the top novice hurdling events at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Wild Passion arrived at Sandown Park yesterday to join the line-up for tomorrow's Tolworth Hurdle which is now guaranteed to be a highly informative guide to the top novice hurdling events at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

As well as the Co Meath-trained four-year-old, the Grade One contest has attracted Astronomic, who lowered the colours of prolific winner Marcel at Haydock Park last month.

Marcel, from the Martin Pipe stable, has since gone on to record his eighth success of the season and also runs tomorrow. Marcel is the 7-4 favourite with Irish bookmakers Cashmans.

"Astronomic just went nicely on the bridle in a gallop with Iron Man. He's well enough and I'll probably run him," his trainer, Howard Johnson, said. "It's a good race and we'll see how good he is. We want decent ground for him." The going on the hurdle course was yesterday "good to soft, good in places".

It had been feared that Wild Passion would be unable to travel over to Britain due to high winds, but a lull in the storms allowed him to make the journey from Dublin.

Noel Meade, Wild Passion's trainer, admits that he had no idea how the horse came by its name. But he did make the point yesterday that several of his stable's runners had ran poorly over Christmas. "We are very hopeful, though, that Wild Passion is OK," he added.

The Jockey Club's disciplinary panel yesterday imposed a £850 fine on the Tiverton-based trainer Alan Jones after his runner Mighty Minster tested positive to the prohibited substance nandrolone after winning at Uttoxeter in June.

A Club statement said that the panel had been unable to establish the source of the substance, and could not, therefore, be satisfied that its administration was accidental and that the trainer had taken all reasonable care. They disqualified Mighty Minster.

Jones said later: "I believe the source was in feedstuffs she was given to build her up because she was in a poor condition while out of training. But because of the time nandrolone stays in a horse's system, which can be up to 12 months depending on which expert you read, it just goes to show the strict liability imposed on trainers when a horse is only in their hands for a short period.

"I was hoping I would be completely exonerated because I had her for only 14 or 15 days, but it is hard because how does a trainer protect himself?"

Jones added: "You can't get what is inside a horse analysed before you take it, what it has been fed you have to take on trust, but obviously I'm licensed and I'm liable."

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