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Queen To Have First Festival Runners
28/02/08

The Weatherbys Champion Bumper on Wednesday, March 12, is likely to see the first ever runner owned by the Queen run at The Festival, in the shape of the Nicky Henderson-trained Gold Award, who has won both his previous starts at Fakenham and Ascot.

Although the Queen – who could also be represented by the Henderson-trained Barbers Shop in the Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase on Thursday, March 13 – has owned top-level Flat horses for more than half a century, and won four out of the five Classics, she has only had jumpers running in her colours since the death of the Queen Mother in March, 2002.

Sir Michael Oswald, who manages the Queen’s jump horses, said today: “The plan is to run Gold Award in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at The Festival.

“He is a very well-bred horse - bred for the Flat. When in training with Sir Michael Stoute, he was big, weak, flat-sided, slow maturing and he quite understandably couldn’t run him on the Flat as a three-year-old. He went up to the stud at Sandringham, where they did a very good job looking after him and brought him on slowly. David Dunger rode him on the stud and he gradually began to fill out and look a bit stronger.”

After joining Lambourn-based Henderson, the five-year-old scored by nine lengths on his debut at Fakenham on January 14 and followed up with a two-length victory at Ascot on February 16 and he has taken the latest success in his stride.

“He has come out of his Ascot run very well,” added Oswald. “He’s a bit green still. We ran him at Fakenham because, at that point, there had been a lot of very wet weather and it’s a very well-drained course - it was about the only place in England you could run him - and he needed to have a race because he was ready for a race.

“I wasn’t sure that he’d get around the bends - it’s a fairly tight course - but he did it perfectly happily. He was a little bit green when he hit the front but he was very well ridden by Mick Fitzgerald, who kept him beautifully balanced. Then he went to Ascot, where Felix De Giles rode him beautifully, and he beat, what I believe to be, a very good horse. Again, he was a shade green when he hit the front.

“Her Majesty has so much to do that she won’t be going to see him run at the Cheltenham Festival. She has a terrific lot on her plate at the moment but the race will be recorded for her to watch.”

 

Cheltenham Festival 2008 Merchandise

Several new items including exclusive Kauto Star and Denman t-shirts.

Where does your allegiance lie? Are you for Kauto Star or Denman? The official range of Festival 2008 merchandise offers fans of both horses the chance to show which one they favour to win the totesport Gold Cup with exclusive t-shirts celebrating jumping’s two superstar chasers, Kauto Star and Denman.

At this year’s Festival, the Cheltenham Superstore will be selling t-shirts dedicated to each horse, the colours and design of which are inspired by the silks of their owners. The official souvenir t-shirt comes in two shades of blue and features both chasers together against a backdrop with The Festival 2008 slogan, ‘There is only one’.

Among the range of new products available is the limited edition Festival 08 jacket. The 2007 version of this stylish, warm and waterproof jacket was a sell-out and this year’s bespoke design features the sponsor’s logo and race title of the principal Championship race each day.

It is also apt that in the year that anticipation ahead of the running of the Gold Cup stands comparison with that of 1964 and the great clash between Arkle and Mill House, the Cheltenham Superstore will be selling a new DVD entitled, Arkle Portrait Of A Legend. The DVD tells the incredible story of the greatest steeplechaser of the modern era and is a moving tribute to the legend known in Ireland simply as ‘Himself’.

The Cheltenham Superstore, which features the ranges of both the Cheltenham Collection and Jockey Club Racing, is also pleased to announce a further two brand new products. The Cheltenham Jute Bag for Life, fully lined and finished with a fine Cheltenham trim and luxury cord handle, is great for shopping but also perfect for picnics and car boots at the races. Other new items for this year’s Festival are individually numbered Cheltenham metal Members Badge key rings.

The full range of official merchandise from the Cheltenham Collection and Jockey Club Racing can be viewed and ordered online at www.cheltenham.co.uk. Or racegoers can take home a special memento of their day at The Festival by visiting the Cheltenham Superstore outlets on course.

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