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Spearing Aims Simon at Cheltenham’s Cashback Chase 27/11/08

Kinnersley trainer John Spearing intends to run stable star Simon in the £100,000 Listed Cashback Chase (1.55pm) at Cheltenham’s Boylesports International on Friday, December 12.

The Boylesports International provides two days of spectacular racing at Cheltenham, the home of jump racing, culminating on Saturday, December 13, which features both the £200,000 Grade Two International (3.05pm) and the £150,000 Grade Three Gold Cup (2.30pm).

Spearing’s charge will be bidding to better his runner-up finish in last year’s renewal of the Cashback Chase, which is staged over three miles, one and a half furlongs. Ridden by regular partner Andrew Thornton, Simon rallied on the run-in 12 months ago as he chased down the winner Over The Creek, only to fail by three quarters of a length.

Simon made his seasonal return in the Grade Three Servo Computer Services Trophy over an extended three miles and three furlongs at The Open on November 15, crossing the line in fourth behind Joe Lively. That run prompted the handicapper to give the Mercy Rimell-owned chaser some minor respite in the weights, a move welcomed by Spearing.

The trainer, who also won the equivalent race in 1985 with Run And Skip, said: “Simon will be given an entry for the Cashback Chase, he ran well to be second last year so we’ll look at having another go and I expect Andrew Thornton will ride him again. He’s in good form at present.

“He ran okay at Cheltenham last time. I was pleased enough with his run but he needs to drop down the ratings a bit, he’s come down a little bit since this time last year and the handicapper dropped him 2lb for his run the other day. That will help, but we need a little bit more than that.”

Simon, seeking his first success since the Grade Three Racing Post Chase in February, 2007, could be aimed at the John Smith’s Grand National for the third successive year. The nine-year-old has come a cropper at Valentine’s second time around on both previous attempts at the Aintree showpiece.

“At the minute, the Grand National is on the agenda but it depends what happens between now and then. Valentine’s has caught him out twice. He does jump it the first time round, so it’s a bit frustrating.”

The Cashback Chase boasts an illustrious roll of honour, having been won in recent times by Betfair Chase victor Kingscliff (2003), Grand National runner-up Royal Auclair (2005) and Nicky Henderson’s top-class performer Marlborough (2000).

The last Irish-trained winner was Flashing Steel, prepared by John Mulhern, who went on to land the 1995 Irish National, while other notable winners include Door Latch (1984), Brown Chamberlain (1982), Diamond Edge (1980), Zongalero (1977), Rubstic (1975) and The Dikler (1970).

The only multiple winner of the race is Yorkshire Gale, who landed the spoils three years in succession from 1995 to 1997 for trainer Josh Gifford.

Also on the Friday’s competitive seven-race card is the Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeplechase (1.20pm), as well as the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle (12.45pm) over three miles, a qualifier for the Pertemps Hurdle Final at The Festival in March.

Saturday’s racing also features the £45,000 Grade Two Relkeel Hurdle (1.20pm), over an extended two and a half miles, and the £30,000 Grade Two Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (3.35pm) over three miles.


Meeting - Boylesports International, Cheltenham Racecourse
Dates - Friday, December 12 & Saturday, December 13
First race - 12.10pm Friday & 12.15pm Saturday
Tickets available from or by calling 08445 793 003.

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