Racing: Championship Hurdle: The big-race field

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CHAMPION HURDLE (CLASS A) (Grade 1)mpounds 200,000 added 2m 110yds Penalty value pounds 116,000l

1 11-0604 BELLATOR (17) 5yo 12st B Fenton

Owner: P Richardson Trainer: G Balding

Form: Weakened to finish 81/2 lengths fourth to Red Blazer in Select Hurdle at Haydock (2m, good to soft) after fading to be 141/2 lengths seventh to Sharpical in Tote Gold Trophy Handicap Hurdle at Newbury (2m110yds, good).

Summary: Unbeaten in two runs as a juvenile hurdler but somewhat disappointing in handicaps this term. Needs to improve out of all recognition to hold any chance here.


2 141-22 CADOUGOLD (FR) (59) (D) 7yo 12st M A Fitzgerald

Owner: D A Johnson Trainer: M Pipe

Form: Finished 21/2 l second to Nipper Reed with Red Blazer (2lb worse) 1/2l third in Teal And Green Handicap Hurdle at Ascot (2m110yds, soft) after 4l second to Mr Percy in Murphy's Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham (2m110yds, good).

Summary: Smart handicapper who has run well on both starts this season but shapes as if he might be suited by a longer distance than this. Holds an each-way chance.


3 1F/32-1 DATO STAR (52) (D) 7yo 12st E Callaghan

Owner: K Riley, M Guthrie & J Donald Trainer: J M Jefferson

Form: Led third, soon well clear and eased closing stages when beating Collier Bay most impressively by 20l, with Relkeel (7lb better off now) beaten 41l into fourth, in Haydock Park Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock (2m, soft).

Summary: Smart hurdler with speed and stamina at this distance who, with the going likely to be in his favour, is entitled to go very close. Looks an each-way banker.


4 35-010 GRAPHIC EQUALISER (31) (D) (BF) 6yo 12st P Carberry

Owner: BRASK syndicate Trainer: A L T Moore (Irl)

Form: 29l 12th to Sharpical in Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury (2m110yds, good) after beating Lady Daisy (28lb better) 5l into third with Theatreworld (28lb better) 32l back in 18th in Ladbroke Hurdle at Leopardstown (2m, good to soft)

Summary: Impressed in Ladbroke but ran dismally next time and faces a much tougher task in this company. Needs to reveal substantial further improvement to make his presence felt here.


5 021-10 GRIMES (101) (D) (BF) 5yo 12st C O'Dwyer

Owner: J P McManus Trainer: C Roche (Irl)

Form: Was 231/4 lengths ninth to Major Jamie in William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Sandown (2m110yds, good to soft). Previously beat Commanche Court by a length in handicap hurdle at Leopardstown (2m, good to soft).

Summary: Tenderly handled when well-beaten last time having impressed on his reappearance. Promising sort, but has yet to show the top class form that would give him a realistic chance in this company.


6 -23451 I'M SUPPOSIN (19) (D) 6yo 12st R Dunwoody

Owner: Nicholas Cooper Trainer: R Rowe

Form: Always prominent and led three out when beating Master Beveled most impressively by an easy 20l in Grade Two Axminster 100 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton (2m, good to firm).

Summary: Improved out of all recognition when bolting in on fast ground in a decent race at Wincanton but will not get that surface here and that could be his undoing.


7 1-1111 ISTABRAQ (51) (C) (D) 6yo 12st C F Swan

Owner: J P McManus Trainer: A P O'Brien (Irl)

Form: Led two out when beating His Song 11/2l with Theatreworld 35l back in sixth in Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown (2m, soft). Previously beat Punting Pete by 21/2l in December Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown (2m, heavy).

Summary: Smart hurdler who won 1997 Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle (2m5f). Unbeaten but not entirely convincing at around 2m this term and, at the odds, might be worth opposing .


8 -23612 KERAWI (31) (D) 5yo 12st C Llewellyn

Owner: M Archer & Jean Broadhurst Trainer: N Twiston-Davies

Form: 3l second to Sharpical in Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury (2m110yds, good) with Bellator (8lb worse) beaten 111/2 lengths, Commanche Court 141/2 lengths, Shooting Light (2lb better) 181/2l, and Graphic Equaliser (11lb better) 26l.

Summary: Enterprisingly ridden when winning Christmas Hurdle, but ran solid race when second in Tote Gold Trophy. Useful performer, but unlikely to be good enough to make much of an impact here.


9 -11122 PRIDWELL (87) (CD) (BF) 8yo 12st A P McCoy

Owner: Jones, Berstock & Fleet partnership. Trainer: M Pipe

Form: Finished 19 lengths second to Paddy's Return in Grade One Long Walk Hurdle (3m1f110yds, good to soft). Previously 13/4 lengths second to Relkeel (8lb worse) in Grade Two Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham (2m1f, good).

Summary: Mulish but talented performer who has plenty of stamina and needs a really strong-run race at this distance in order to be effective. He will get that here and, if in the mood, could stay on to reach the frame.


10 12-131 RED BLAZER (17) (D) 7yo 12st J Cullotty

Owner: Miss H Knight Trainer: Miss H Knight

Form: Had Bellator 81/2l behind when winning Select Hurdle at Haydock (2m, good to soft). Previously 4l third to Nipper Reed, 1/2l behind Cadougold (2lb better) with Mistinguett (5lb better) 43/4l back fifth at Ascot (2m110yds, soft).

Summary: Progressive sort who loves the mud but stays 21/2m and might be suited by more of a test of stamina. Won in good style last time though and, if he can pull out a bit more improvement, might reward each-way support.


11 1/2-14 RELKEEL (52) (CD) 9yo 12st A Maguire

Owner: Trustees of late C B Harvey. Trainer: D Nicholson

Form: Trailed in 41l fourth to Dato Star (7lb worse) in Haydock Park Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock (2m, soft) after beating Pridwell (8lb better) by comfortable 13/4l in Grade Two Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham (2m1f, good).

Summary: Talented but plagued by injury problems. Impressive on reappearance but looked wrong when beaten out of sight last time out. Capable of getting into the shake-up if everything goes his way, but remains a risky proposition.


12 -11134 SANMARTINO (38) (D)) 6yo 12st R Johnson

Owner: Khalid Abdullah Trainer: D Nicholson

Form: One-paced 7 lengths fourth to Master Beveled, 1 length behind Shadow Leader (1lb better) a short-head behind Marello and 2 lengths ahead of I'm Supposin (4lb worse) in Agfa Hurdle at Sandown (2m110yds, good to soft).

Summary: Smart hurdler who has been ill-suited by the slow early pace in recent races. Capable of running well in the strongly-run contest this promises to be, but needs to improve a bit to hold more than an each-way chance.


13 111-22 SHADOW LEADER (38) (CD) 7yo 12st N Williamson

Owner: J Blackshaw Trainer: C Egerton

Form: 6l second to Master Beveled in Agfa Hurdle at Sandown (2m110yds, good to soft) after 3/4l second to Kerawi with Sanmartino 4l away third and I'm Supposin 12l away fourth in Grade One Christmas Hurdle at Kempton (2m, soft).

Summary: Won Supreme Novices' Hurdle (2m110yds) impressively here last year and not disgraced in slowly run races this season. Best form on fast ground, however, and the mud may do for him this afternoon.


14 13-240 SHOOTING LIGHT (31) (CD) 5yo 12st R Farrant

Owner: J M Brown Trainer: P Murphy

Form: Weakened two out when 211/2 lengths ninth to Sharpical in Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury (2m110yds, good). Previously 10l fourth to Relkeel (4lb worse), 8l behind Pridwell (4lb better) in Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham (2m1f, good)

Summary: Decent staying hurdler who needs at least 21/2m to show his best and really is not up to championship standard at any distance. Well beaten in most recent starts. No chance.


15 250611 THEATREWORLD (24) (D) 6yo 12st T P Treacy

Owner: Mrs J Magnier Trainer: A P O'Brien (Irl)

Form: Beat Noble Thyne 1/2l in Grade Three Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran park (2m, good to soft) after beating Cockney Lad by 1l in the Red Bog Hurdle at Navan (2m2f, heavy).

Summary: Second in last year's Champion Hurdle, but this looks a tougher renewal and mostly disappointing this term although signs of a return to form in recent races. Needs to improve to figure.


16 653332 LADY DAISY (45) (D) 9yo 11st 9lb J F Titley

Owner: P F Kehoe Trainer: T Mullins (Irl)

Form: Was 4l second to Caulker in Tote Gold Trophy Trial Handicap Hurdle at Ayr 2m, good to soft) after finishing finishing 5l third to Graphic Equaliser (28lb worse) in Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown (2m, good to soft).

Summary: Smart handicapper and put up excellent weight-carrying performance in the Ladbroke. Goes well in the mud and would not have to improve much to run into a place.


17 11-113 MARELLO (38) (D) 7yo 11st 9lb P Niven

Owner: Mr & Mrs W J Williams Trainer: Mrs M Reveley

Form: Was 63/4l third to Master Beveled in Agfa Hurdle at Sandown (2m110yds, good to soft). Earlier beat Shooting Light (8lb worse) by 1/2l in Tote Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle at Chepstow (2m4f110yds, good to soft).

Summary: Good, tough, mare who stays well and want 21/2m-plus. Outpaced in slowly run last time and, although sure to be better suited by this more hectically conducted affair, probably lacks the pace and class to make an impact.


18 250513 MISTINGUETT (38) (C) (D) 6yo 11st 9lb C Maude

Owner: John Duggan Trainer: N Twiston-Davies

Form: Had Daraydan (9lb worse) 17l behind when 8l third to Buckhouse Boy in Sandown Handicap Hurdle (2m6f, good to soft). Previously beat Bimsey by 15l in Grade One Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham (2m5f110yds, good to soft).

Summary: Smart staying hurdler who is in good form but looks sure to find this distance much too sharp and would have to run the race of her life to reach the frame.


- 18 declared -

BETTING: 9-4 Istabraq, 11-2 I'm Supposin, 13-2 Dato Star, 7-1 Shadow Leader, 12-1 Pridwell, 14-1 Relkeel, 16-1 Grimes, Kerawi, 20-1 Sanmartino, 25-1 Marello, 28-1 Theatreworld, 33-1 Graphic Equaliser, 40-1 Cadougold, Mistinguett, Red Blazer, 66-1 Bellator, Lady Daisy, Shooting Light

1997: Make A Stand 6 12 0 A P McCoy 7-1 (M Pipe) 17 ran

Compiled by Ian Davies