Racing: Hanmer holds key to the big prizes

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THE ENTIRE shape of the ante-post markets on some of the National Hunt season's major steeplechases could change dramatically after the running of the Edward Hanmer Memorial Chase at Haydock today.

All six combatants are prominent players in one or more of the three major jump races: the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Hennessy Gold Cup or the Grand National.

In the Hennessy, Suny Bay, The Grey Monk and Mahler are all 14-1 chances with Coral, behind the 100-30 favourite Teeton Mill. In the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the same firm make See More Business, well backed 10 days ago, an 8-1 chance. Escartefigue is 10-1, Suny Bay 20-1, The Grey Monk 25-1, Mahler 33-1 and Strath Royal 50-1.

In the Grand National, Suny Bay, runner-up for the last two years, is 25-1 to go one better. The Grey Monk, Strath Royal and Mahler are 40-1 chances, while Escartefigue is 33-1 for the big race.

"This is one of the hottest pre-Christmas steeplechases we have seen this decade, and will undoubtedly have a significant bearing on major ante-post markets," Simon Clare, Coral's spokesman, said .

Doubts grew yesterday over whether Cyfor Malta will run in the Hennessy Gold Cup on 28 November. After his Cheltenham win on Saturday the ex-French gelding, trained by Martin Pipe, had been chalked in as one of the favourites for the Newbury prize. But Ladbrokes and Hills both made him 3-1 ''with a run'' last night. Coral believe Cyfor Malta is a doubtful participant.