Racing: Monk takes the Kelso route to Cheltenham

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The Independent Online
GREAT clues are available today, Watson, should you wish to find winners at the Cheltenham Festival. London sleuths, however, will have to get their way across from Baker Street to King's Cross this morning if they are to collect the vital information.

A train to Scottish soldier country in Kelso may lead to some persuasive evidence for the beginning of the Cotswolds' great jamboree, which starts a week Tuesday. Gordon Richards will be sprinkling around the tips when he saddles three of Greystoke's biggest guns for a piece of work after racing.

The Grey Monk, Addington Boy and Unguided Missile are all Cheltenham bound if they do not make fools of themselves this afternoon, and any hint to their well-being will cause a ripple in the ante-post markets.

It will not be cheap for the softies to gain their pleasure. Trainspotters will have to travel to Berwick-on-Tweed, the nearest station to the course, and from there it is 22 miles by taxi to the course. Barter for the fare with the tam-o'-shantered driver.

Once in situ there may be a problem with those who appreciate their tucker. On-course picnics are not allowed, almost uniquely, at Kelso. Richards, though, will hear no ill of the hosts in border country. "The ground is good at Kelso and they have been kind enough to let me go," he said yesterday."

The Grey Monk remains at 10-1 for the Gold Cup even though he has been the victim of bacterial mischief over recent months and now there is that great clock-watching exercise with him, the race against time. "He needs all the work I can give him," Gordon said.

Addington Boy is "in good form" following a recent spin over hurdles at Newcastle and may yet be one of the liveliest outside candidates for the Blue Riband, while Unguided Missile has dropped from the highest echelon and more prosaic targets have been lined up for him."He is in the Kim Muir and the race that used to be the Ritz Club," Richards said.

Discussions will also be taking place at the Jockey Club following Royston Ffrench's decision to appeal against the suspension he was given for partnering a non-trier at Wolverhampton on Wednesday. The jockey was suspended for seven days and his mount, Lady Jazz, for 30.

"Royston will appeal," the jockey's agent, Tony Hind, said yesterday. "He's upset because they're insinuating he didn't try and he did. He's very down. If you go through the form book like I do you'll know that the best the horse could have done was finish third.

"Royston hit the horse three or four times in the straight and they told him he didn't try. And the trainer phoned to say the horse was a bit lame this morning which gives more possible evidence why she couldn't lie up with the pace early on yesterday."

This may be grim stuff for Ffrench but at least he can console himself with the fact that while we are looking at droplets running down our windows in the coming days he will witness the same phenomenon from a seat next to an aircraft porthole. The champion apprentice is scheduled to fly out to Barbados today to take the mount on Bill Marshall's Making It Happen in the Gold Cup at Garrison Savannah. It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.

l A punter walked into a Central London betting office yesterday and put pounds 15,000 on the Champion Hurdle favourite, Istabraq, at 7-2. An hour later he went back and put on another pounds 20,000. Corals, who took the bet, cut the odds to 100-30. The punter could have saved himself pounds 3,150 in tax if he had placed the bet on a racecourse.

RICHARD EDMONDSON

NAP: McGregor The Third

(Kelso 3.20)

NB: Welsh Silk

(Newbury 5.10)

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