Racing: Unbeaten Banquet

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The Independent Online
LAST SEASON'S top bumper performer Alexander Banquet retained his unbeaten record as he made a successful transition to hurdling at Fairyhouse yesterday. Always prominent in the hands of Ruby Walsh, the 4-7 favourite asserted his superiority in the straight over his market rival Roses Of Picardy.

The winning trainer, Willie Mullins, was satisfied with the performance. "He will improve fitness-wise and in his jumping for that," he said.

Paul Carberry, rider of Roses Of Picardy, gave Inis Cara a patient ride to land the novices' chase for Michael Hourigan. Foxchapel King looked the likely winner when sent to the front between the final two fences only to undo his good work by swerving left in mid-air at the last.

At Newton Abbot, Earthmover, who landed the Foxhunters' Chase at Cheltenham last season and has been the subject of support for the 1999 Gold Cup took a tumble on his seasonal return. Sent off 8-11 favourite, Earthmover and Freddie Muck were under pressure at the second-last when the former crumpled on landing.

Paul Nicholls, Earthmover's trainer, said that his charge would still take his place in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on 28 November. Allotted 10st 3lb in the weights published yesterday, the gelding is 10-1 with Ladbrokes for the race. "I'll never get him in a race like that off that weight again," Nicholls said.

Tom Scudamore, son of the former jockey Peter, partnered his first winner under Rules when landing the amateurs' hurdle on Young Thruster.

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