Racing: Bookmakers bet `without Istabraq'

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The Independent Online
WITH ISTABRAQ odds-on, William Hill have issued betting on the Champion Hurdle without the hot favourite. The firm make French Holly, second to Istabraq at Leopardstown last month, their 3-1 favourite. Happy Change, 20-1 with the Tote, is owner The Winning Line's main Champion Hurdle hope. The ex-German Group Three winner makes his jumping debut in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton a week tomorrow. The main aim of the same owners' Stretarez, also trained by Venetia Williams, is the Ormonde Stakes at Chester in May. He may not make his hurdling debut until the Champion Hurdle, at the Cheltenham Festival next month.

Meanwhile Hywel Davies, The Winning Line syndicate's manager, feels Saturday's Mitsubishi Shogun Ascot Chase, although over a trip - two miles and three furlongs and 110 yards - short of Teeton Mill's best, will be an ideal prep race for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Davies said: "He has had all his races this season won after two and a half miles." Teeton Mill tackles Direct Route, who is being prepared for the two-mile Champion Chase.

Nicky Henderson yesterday again angrily refuted rumours that all was not well with Katarino, his Triumph Hurdle hope. Katarino has headed the betting on the four-year-old hurdlers' championship for some time. Henderson said: "The horse worked this morning and is fine. Last night, I counted 26 calls about him, there is nothing wrong with the horse, ok?"

The trainer Len Lungo has warned he may withdraw Santa Concerto from Saturday's four-mile-one-furlong Eider Handicap Chase at Newcastle. He fears the going may be unsuitable and is considering switching his Gold Cup entry to the Greenalls Chase at Haydock the following Saturday. It means both horses at the head of the handicap may miss the race, as Him Of Praise is also doubtful.



Young Kenny 5-1 4-1 5-1

Santa Concerto 9-2 6-1 11-2

Peter 7-1 7-1 7-1

Him Of Praise 8-1 9-1 9-1

Full Of Oats 8-1 8-1 10-1

Hollybank Buck 9-1 10-1 10-1

Naughty Future 8-1 10-1 8-1

Flaked Oats 10-1 12-1 11-1

Parahandy 12-1 12-1 11-1

Jeffries 14-1 14-1 10-1

Feels Like Gold 16-1 12-1 16-1

Ottowa 20-1 16-1 20-1

Parsons Boy 16-1 20-1 20-1

The Last Fling 16-1 20-1 12-1

Tough Test 20-1 14-1 12-1

Flimsy Truth 25-1 25-1 20-1

Ballyline 25-1 33-1 25-1

Aly Daley 25-1 40-1 33-1

Simpson 25-1 33-1 33-1

Kibby Bank 25-1 100-1 66-1

(Each-way 1/4 the odds, places, 1, 2, 3, 4)

CHAMPION HURDLE William Hill's betting without Istabraq: 3-1 French Holly, 8-1 Happy Change, 9-1 Wahiba Sands, 10-1 Blowing Wind, Dato Star, Lady Cricket, Theatreworld, 12-1 Decoupage, Grey Shot, 14-1 Stretarez, The Fly, 16-1 Tiutchev, 20-1 Zafarabad, 25-1 others.

WILLIAM HILL HANDICAP HURDLE (2m 4f, Ascot, Saturday) 4-1 Sadler's Realm, 9-2 Moondigua, 11-2 Castle Owen, 13-2 Darbela, 9-1 Ismeno, 10-1 Effectual, Globe Runner, 12-1 Bluedonix, 14-1 Polar Prospect, Sesame Seed, 16-1 Supreme Genotin, 20-1 Outset, 22- 1 Bless Me Sister, 25-1 El Freddie, Mister RM.