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George Building up for Dual Festival Challenges
17/02/11

Jimmy Moffatt's stable star Chief Dan George is on the road to both the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals over the next couple of months, but will first try his luck over hurdles at Haydock on Saturday where he is entered to run in the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle, writes Elliot Slater.

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The 11-year-old had a spin over hurdles last season in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham before reverting back to fences to win at Doncaster, then followed up with a tremendous effort in winning the Grade 3 William Hill Trophy Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, running on bravely up the hill to deny the fast-finishing The Package by a head. All roads are set to lead back to Cheltenham for a repeat assault on the three-mile handicap chase, but Moffatt is keen to try and repeat the trick that worked so well last year in freshening his horse up over timber first. Those following the Cheltenham Festival odds will no doubt be keeping a close eye on his performance this weekend.

Chief Dan George had been an intended runner in the Sky Best Chase at Doncaster in January but that of course was abandoned due to frost, and was also set to have an outing at Newbury recently when the meeting was abandoned after the suspected electrocution tragedy in the parade ring before the opening race. The gelding has run only once so far this term when trailing in a long way behind Imperial Commander in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock in November when badly in need of the outing.

Should all go well in the 'Rendlesham' and at Cheltenham a few weeks later, Moffatt hopes to let his grand sort take his chance in the John Smith's Grand National on April 9, a race for which he is currently quoted in ante-post lists at odds of up to 40/1.

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