Racing: Trainers jump to defend winter game

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The Independent Online
A CAMPAIGN against any plans to scale down the winter jumps fixture list was launched by National Hunt trainers meeting in Lambourn yesterday.

Leading members of the National Trainer's Federation gave their representatives full backing in the fight to retain jumping's share of racing. The demise of jumps racing at Windsor and Lingfield, together with a national newspaper story that jump racing may have to close down in January and early February, have caused alarm, said Toby Balding, chairman of the National Hunt sub- committee of the NTF. "Our core period of 1 October to 1 May must remain sacrosanct and we are to review how best to formulate National Hunt racing in that period. Our two main Festivals are reliant on racing in that period."

Meanwhile, Danoli, Ireland's favourite racehorse, makes his long-awaited comeback in the Kilkenny Irish Beer Champion Chase at Gowran Park today. Tom Foley's bay, now 10, faces the two-time Cheltenham Gold Cup third Dorans Pride in a field of six for the feature over two and a half miles.

Danoli, who fractured an off-fore fetlock when successful in the 1995 Martell Aintree Hurdle, missed last season after an operation to remove pins from the leg. Foley, who will aim Danoli at a return for the Gold Cup, warned his gelding is a long way from peak fitness after 580 days off course. "We're quite happy with him but he's a goodish bit to go to be ready and he'll need the run badly," he said.