RACING: Lacklustre Star pales beside Light
Friday 13 January 1995
Bradbury Star was still occupying some minds as an interesting outsider for the Gold Cup shortly before the field set off at 2.10 - he has an excellent record around Cheltenham - but all such ambitions surely evaporated with the first crack of Philip Hide's whip, administered at 2.13. Bradbury Star was already a dozen lengths behind Lusty Light and Dublin Flyer, and his lack of any response when put under pressure was the first big disappointment of the race.
The second was the mistake by Dublin Flyer at the last which fired Brendan Powell from his saddle. Tim Forster's chaser had appeared beaten at the previous obstacle, but was running on again strongly and had reached Lusty Light's quarters when he made his sudden exit.
"He didn't give me the same feel he did when he won the Tripleprint," Powell said afterwards, but none the less, a close finish seemed certain.
Lusty Light remains a 25-1 chance for the Grand National (the weights for which, do not forget, have yet to be framed). As for Bradbury Star, Josh Gifford, his trainer, said: "It was the tacky ground, he just couldn't bounce of it." Careful study of the chaser's form, however, reveals that of his 18 victories in 49 outings, only three have been achieved after the turn of the year, and he is clearly not an animal who improves through the season. It may be some time before backers again send him off at long odds-on.
An even shorter favourite yesterday was Merry Gale, Ireland's principal hope for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, who has recently shown such an unfortunate lack of fluency at his fences that Jim Dreaper, his trainer, turned him out in a minor hurdle race at Gowran Park yesterday as a confidence-boosting exercise. He started at 2-5 and won as expected - though by only one and a half lengths - but any useful assessment of this apparently flawed talent will not be possible until his pre-Cheltenham outing.
This will be in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown next month, rather than at Cheltenham itself on 28 January, when Barton Bank would have been among Merry Gale's opponents. Instead, he will face Jodami, the 1993 Gold Cup winner, who has taken the Leopardstown race for the last two years. "We've been trying to get Merry Gale to relax, but we won't know any more until he runs in a good race with top-class horses," Dreaper said. "Rightly or wrongly we will be going to Leopardstown before we make any Festival plans."
Another favourite who should perhaps be avoided at present is Viking Flagship, the champion two-mile chaser and market leader for tomorrow's Victor Chandler Handicap Chase at Ascot. Rumours about his well-being, or lack of it, reached the bookies yesterday morning, and most suspended betting on the race to await confirmation or denial.
The latter duly arrived, both from David Nicholson's yard and a spokeswoman for his owner, Graham Roach. "I phoned the stable myself," she said, "and we have been assured that the horse is fine and is a definite runner. We don't know where the rumours have come from, but knowing Mr Nicholson I'm sure someone would have called if there was a problem."
However, there can be little point backing him before today's declaration deadline, after which any withdrawal will allow punters to retrieve their stake.
nWith frost threatening Ascot's two-day fixture, contingency plans have been made to switch the Victor Chandler Chaseto a different venue on a later date. Last year the race was transferred to Warwick. The stewards at the Berkshire course will inspect the track at 7.30am to assess the prospects for today's racing.
Latest in Sport
QPR 1 Arsenal 2: Arsene Wenger praises 'mental strength' of strikers Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud in win over QPR
Newcastle 0 Manchester United 1: Louis van Gaal describes performance as 'maybe our best match of the season'
Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid superstar 'sends his hair stylist to look after his waxwork once a month'
Newcastle vs Manchester United match report: Ashley Young scores late winner as Angel Di Maria fails to shine yet again
Brooklyn Beckham to be released: Why Arsenal could regret letting David Beckham's son depart
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 3 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 4 Penis size: Study revealing 'what's normal' sends international media into meltdown
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 2nd / 3rd Line IT Support Eng...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...
£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...