Racing: Dwyer to atone on Sybillin

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The Independent Online
MARK DWYER is the jockey to bet with on the toss of a coin at the moment.

Given the option of riding at Haydock or Leopardstown on Saturday, he chose Ireland. And lost two winning mounts at the Lancashire course.

At Leopardstown itself in the Ladbroke Hurdle, he faced the dilemma of going for home on Native Mission or sitting tight as his horse entered the straight. He kicked on, and lost, as his mount was swallowed up close home.

'All in all it was a moderate weekend,' Dwyer said yesterday. 'I ended up missing winners at Haydock and I made a decision in the Ladbroke which ended up being wrong.'

The omens for Sybillin in the Victor Chandler Chase this weekend are hardly portentous then as Dwyer will ride at Ascot in preference to partnering Greek Flutter at Newcastle.

Sybillin though has other, more tangible, factors in his favour. A course and distance winner, he is well weighted and also has in his corner Jimmy FitzGerald, the trainer who won this race three years ago with Meikleour.

FitzGerald has made outstanding two-mile chasers out of unpromising material in Danish Flight and Uncle Ernie in recent years, a fact which has further heightened aspirations for Sybillin at Norton Grange.

'He's by far and away the best horse we've ever sent chasing,' Dwyer said. 'Danish Flight and Uncle Ernie wouldn't be nearly as good as he was over hurdles.

'I'd go as far as to say Sybillin is better over fences than he was over hurdles. He could go a long way and off his weight on Saturday you'd think he'd be very well in.'

Sybillin's record over the larger obstacles stretches no further than his wins this season at Uttoxeter, Ascot and Newcastle, but Dwyer would rather overlook this brevity of achievement and refer more heavily to the gelding's whole log book. 'He's not had a great deal of experience over fences,' he said. 'But he's had a lot of racing experience overall.'

While this was an encouraging message to punters, there was less of a confident ring about Edward O'Grady, another former winner of the race. The Tipperary trainer again saddles the grey which gave him victory then, Blitzkreig.

'He's in great form,' said O'Grady, whose subsequent words suggested the horse had hardly been laid out for the handicap. 'There was just no other race to run him in over here,' he said. 'And he had a lot less weight when he won before.'

Other challengers to Sybillin could include the well-fancied Cyphrate, from the Martin Pipe stable, and Young Snugfit, who may make his seasonal reappearance in the race in which he has been runner-up for the last two years.

Sybillin's main obstacle though may yet be his jockey's recent capacity for picking the wrong one of two options.

'He's only a novice but I'd be surprised if his jumping did let him down in competitive company,' Dwyer said. 'He's not an overbig horse, but he seems to show great scope at his fences.

'I just hope I've got it right and don't end up going to the wrong meeting again.'

VICTOR CHANDLER CHASE (Ascot, Saturday): Coral: 3-1 Cyphrate & Sybillin, 4-1 Deep Sensation, 6-1 Blitzkrieg, 10-1 Freeline Finishing, 12-1 Young Snugfit, 16-1 others; Ladbrokes: 3-1 Cyphrate, 7-2 Blitzkrieg, 5-1 Deep Sensation & Sybillin, 8-1 Young Snugfit, 10-1 Beech Road, 12- 1 Tinryland, 14-1 Freeline Finishing, 20-1 others; Victor Chandler: 4-1 Cyphrate & Sybillin, 9-2 Blitzkreig & Deep Sensation, 6-1 Young Snugfit, 10-1 Beech Road & Tinryland, 14-1 Freeline Finishing, 20-1 others.