Racing: Pitman stable has a soft spot for Princeful

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The Independent Online
The weekend's cards at Chepstow and Sandown will provide hard evidence for the New Year's big steeplechase prizes.

But a handicap hurdle will be Saturday's big betting race as punters try to defray Christmas expenses. Chris Corrigan reports.

Jenny Pitman is hoping for further rain to improve the prospects of Princeful in Saturday's William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Sandown. Richard Dunwoody is standing by to ride the six-year-old, who appears handily weighted in the pounds 50,000 event.

Princeful had a spin on the home gallops yesterday and will do a sharper piece of work this morning before being confirmed a definite runner. But David Stait, Mrs Pitman's assistant, said last night: ``We are working towards running him at Sandown. The ground is the key on Saturday - the softer it is the better for us.''

The Tote cut Princeful's odds from 12-1 to 10-1 yesterday, getting into line with most of their competitors. Ladbrokes were still offering 11- 1.

Saturday's race is over two miles and half a furlong. At the start of this season Pitman said she believed Princeful's best ditance was likely to be two and half miles. ``But he has the class to hold his own at two miles,'' Stait insisted yesterday.

The bay was a 10-length second, on unsuitable fast going, to the brilliant Shadow Leader in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last March. Last night, the Sandown hurdles track going was described as good to soft, with good patches.

Princeful made his seasonal debut two weeks ago at Ascot where he finished a length and a runner-up to Ela Agapi Mou.

The two are due to renew rivalry on Saturday but the Ascot race was run at a farcical early pace, and Princeful stumbled and lost momentum on a roadcrossing before the home straight. The Pitman horse should certainly gain revenge on 2lb better terms.

Martin Pipe's Doctoor, who had been a fancied for Saturday's race is now unlikely to be in the line up after finishing second at odds of 4- 9 in a four-horse event at Fontwell yesterday.

After Doctoor's jockey, Tony McCoy dismounted, he remarked: "He'd be much better with a pair of blinkers."

Nick Henderson, who trains the current favourite, said: "Stormy Fairweather runs in the William Hill race on Saturday, but my other entry, Barna Boy was scoped this morning and I think he'll wait until Cheltenham on Saturday week."

Coral yesterday reported each-way support for the 33-1 shot Celibate in Saturday's Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown and cut the odds to 25-1.

Paul Nicholls has confirmed that See More Business will take on the 1996 Grand National winner Rough Quest in the Rehearsal Chase at Chepstow on Saturday.

WILLIAM HILL HANDICAP HURDLE: Latest betting (Tote): 11-2 Stormyfairweather, 7-1 Grimes , 8-1 Potter's Gale, 9-1 Alabang, 10-1 Chai-Yo & Princeful, 12-1 Carlito Brigante, Doctoor, Ela Agapi Mou & Potentate, 14-1 Kerawi, 16-1 others.

TINGLE CREEK CHASE: Latest odds (Coral): 7-4 Klairon Davis, 100-30 Viking Flagship, 7-2 Mulligan, 9-2 Or Royal, 6-1 Ask Tom, 20-1 Arctic Kinsman, 25-1 Celibate, 33-1 Indian Jockey, 66-1 Oh So Risky.