Racing: Princeful's career in jeopardy

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The Independent Online
JENNY PITMAN was yesterday no more than "hopeful" that Princeful, the top staying hurdler and the trainer's great hope for the 2000 Cheltenham Gold Cup, will ever race again.

An X-ray examination has revealed that the gelding fractured the pedal bone in his left hind leg when brought down on his first run over fences on Monday. The trainer, who initially thought the gelding had only sprained a joint, said: "The prognosis for a return to racing, while we are hopeful, must be guarded.

"A plaster cast has been placed over the foot in order to stabilise the fracture and reduce movement of the foot and pastern to a minimum. We have taken advice from Dr Redden [a specialist in treating leg injuries in horses] in America and Princeful's X-rays have been faxed to him."

A fractured pedal bone is a potentially career-ending injury and caused the retirement of the three-times Gold Cup winner Arkle in 1968.

Pitman had high hopes that Princeful would win her the Millennium Gold Cup and had even entered him for this year's Blue Riband before he had jumped a fence in public.

Richard Dunwoody, who aggravated a neck injury in Princeful's fall, plans to return to race-riding at Ascot on Friday.

Hopes of staging an eight-race card that day faded with each drop of rain falling at the Berkshire track yesterday. Plans have been made to run a card of five chases, including the rescheduled Victor Chandler Chase, if the rain fails to relent.

Following the abandonment of yesterday's Southwell meeting and today's Newton Abbot card, prospects for the resumption of turf racing rest with Huntingdon, which is subject to a 7.30am inspection.

n Gatflax, who set a record for a jumper when purchased for 200,000gns at Doncaster in October, is to revert to hurdling after a disappointing fencing debut at Wetherby last month on his first run for Andy Turnell. It was later reported that the gelding had broken a blood vessel. He has been entered in the Champion Hurdle and the Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival but is more likely to contest the County Hurdle.