Racing: Star slides after hiccup

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The Independent Online
RUMOURS of coughing and limping in the stables yesterday resulted in scratching and scribbling in the bookmakers' offices, writes John Cobb.

Early-morning stories that Bradbury Star, one of the favourites for the King George VI Chase, was likely to miss the race caused some firms to rub him off their betting boards, but by lunchtime he was restored, albeit lower down the lists.

Josh Gifford, the gelding's trainer, while reporting that some of his string are coughing, made it clear that Bradbury Star has not been affected, while James Campbell, the horse's owner, admitted that Bradbury Star had suffered a slight setback in his preparation for the Kempton chase on 27 December, but reported that all was now well.

'Bradbury Star kicked himself slightly and was cast in his box at the weekend but there's no problem now,' Campbell said. 'He's worked well since and I would advise anyone thinking of backing him to 'get on large' - he's now available at a nice price.'

The nicest price is 6-1, with Ladbrokes and Coral - the latter having knocked him out from 4-1 - while Sporting Index, clearly not convinced by his connections' assertions, make him 9-2 'with a run'.

Certain to be missing from a big-race line-up is Gambling Royal, who has been pulled out of Saturday's Ascot feature, the Betterware Cup, by David Nicholson. The Gloucestershire trainer wants to give the horse more time to recover from his exertions at Haydock last Wednesday when he won the Tommy Whittle Chase.

'He had his first run for more than 10 months last week in heavy ground and takes a bit of time to get over his races,' Nicholson said. There is now a possibility the 10-year-old will be switched to the Welsh National on 28 December.

Gambling Royal's defection prompted a shake-up in Ascot betting, with William Hill cutting the favourite, Young Hustler, to 13-8 from 2-1.

BETTERWARE CUP (Ascot, Saturday): William Hill: 13-8 Young Hustler, 100-30 Very Very Ordinary, 5-1 Capability Brown, 6-1 Zeta's Lad, 12-1 others.

KING GEORGE VI CHASE: (Kempton, 27 December) Ladbrokes: 9-4 Barton Bank, 3- 1 The Fellow, 6-1 Bradbury Star, Black Humour & Young Hustler.

Kelso's meeting today is subject to a precautionary inspection at 7.00am. A slight frost is forecast but racing would have been possible yesterday.