Racing: Equiname out to restore esteem

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The Independent Online
CALL EQUINAME, a flop when favourite for the Murphy's Gold Cup, will attempt to atone for that poor effort at Cheltenham on Saturday. His trainer, Paul Nicholls, had intended bringing the nine-year-old back to racecourse action over Christmas but he has had a change of heart and will run his charge in the two-mile handicap chase.

The grey was found to have an irregular heartbeat after pulling up in the Murphy's, but further veterinary tests found nothing amiss and he has pleased Nicholls in his work.

"If it hadn't been for his poor run in the Murphy's, which still remains a mystery, I would be going into this race with a more positive attitude," Nicholls said. "I'm putting a line through the Murphy's as if it hadn't happened."

Nicholls is represented in Saturday's feature contest, the Tripleprint Gold Cup, by Irbee, who has been runner-up on his two starts this season.

"I'm hoping for plenty of rain between now and Saturday as he likes it soft," Nicholls said.

Nicholls runs Juyush in the Grade Two December Novices' Chase at Lingfield, but Storm Damage will travel to Haydock for the Tommy Whittle Chase only if the race cuts up. Forecast high winds could pose a threat to plans to bring Dorans Pride over from Ireland for the pounds 42,000 race.

His trainer, Michael Hourigan, said: "I don't want Dorans Pride to be away for more than three or four days so we are keeping an eye on the weather before we set off. If we are satisfied there will not be problems with the ferries he will leave here at 5am on Thursday and reach Haydock that afternoon."

The winner of the Tommy Whittle will earn a pounds 50,000 bonus if he can go on to take either the Cheltenham Gold Cup or Grand National next spring.

RICHARD EDMONDSON

Nap: Prodigal Son

(Lingfield 2.40)

NB: Soldier Mak

(Leicester 3.30)

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