Charles Barnett Happy
Charles Barnett, Aintree's Managing Director, expressed his delighted at the second running of the North West Masters.
He said: "We have witnessed two fantastic days of racing at the
North West Masters and we are very pleased with how the meeting has progressed
in its second year - it continues to go from strength to strength.
"Yesterday's performance by Kauto Star in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park was something special and he looks a serious contender for the Betfair Million while today we saw an amazing performance from Eurotrek in the totesport.com Becher Chase and he could well be one of the leading players in the 2007 John Smith's Grand National."
Two days of top quality jump racing at North West Masters
The North West Masters is poised to deliver two days of top quality jump racing at the north west's two premier racecourses, with fantastic fields declared at both Haydock Park tomorrow, Saturday, November 18, and Aintree on Sunday, November 19.
Market leader Kauto
Star heads a top class field of six for Saturday's
showcase event at Haydock, the £200,000 Grade One Betfair
Chase (1.50pm), while Sunday's Aintree card is set to be a thriller with two
races over the world famous Grand National fences - the £100,000
totesport.com Becher Chase (2.35pm), which has a superb 21-strong field,
and the £60,000 totepool Grand Sefton (1.30pm), which will see
23 horses go to post for what promises to be an exciting spectacle.
Haydock Park's excellent six-race card tomorrow also includes a mouth-watering
renewal of the £100,000 Betfair Handicap Hurdle (2.20pm), which
has attracted a very competitive field of 17.
Trainer Sue Smith will be double-handed in the two mile, seven and a
half-furlong contest with the classy Royal Emperor and last year's victor
Royal Emperor, who defeated the reopposing top-weight Millenium Royal
in the Grade Two Rendlesham Hurdle over the course and distance in February,
is reported to be in fine form despite being pulled up in the Grade Two
bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in October, and then falling in
the Grade Three Servo Computer Services Trophy at Cheltenham on November
Smith revealed this morning: "Royal Emperor is in extremely good
form with himself. He does go very well round Haydock and stays every
inch of three miles, and I would say that the horse will run well.
"He has had two runs over fences this season and has been a bit
unlucky so far, so we've opted to put him back over hurdles this time
and see how he gets on.
St Matthew defeated subsequent Grade One World Hurdle victor My Way
De Solzen by a neck in a thrilling finish to the Betfair Handicap Hurdle
12 months ago and is set to defend his crown.
The eight-year-old has been off the course since suffering an injury
when falling in the Grade Three skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby
on December 26.
Smith reported: "It's St Matthew's first trip out this season and
it's a good place for him to start as there aren't a lot of opportunities
for him. He chipped his hock, so it's due to the nature of the injury
he suffered that we're starting off over hurdles and not over fences.
"We've done as much work as we can with him at home so we're going to Haydock and hoping that he just runs a good race."
The £100,000 contest sees the Francois Doumen-trained Grade One
winner Millenium Royal head the weights on 11st 12lb, while other contenders
include the David Pipe-trained Korelo, the Howard Johnson-trained course
and distance Grade Two victor Mephisto, and Grade One-winning mare United,
trained by Lucy Wadham.
Other contenders include classy veteran Tees Components, smart chaser
Halcon Genelardais, Jazz D'Estruval, Be Be King and Two Miles West.
Smith is also represented in the feature race at Aintree on Sunday,
November 19, with Undeniable primed for a first taste of the Grand National
fences in the £100,000 totesport.com Becher Chase over three and
a quarter miles.
The eight-year-old posted his best effort last term when third to You're
Special in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham
Festival in March. He was pulled up on his seasonal bow at Carlisle on
Smith revealed: "Undeniable seems very good in himself. He had
a run at Carlisle last week but the ground was very heavy, so I'm not
quite sure whether this might come a bit quick.
"We were slightly unfortunate to have a little set-back with him,
and that's what made his comeback run a little later than normal.
"He's an excellent jumper round the park courses. He's scopey enough
and yet he's careful enough so I sincerely hope that he does cope with
the fences. I think that you need a bit of both of those attributes round
Aintree but we'll find out on Sunday.
"David O'Meara will ride Undeniable and it looks like Padge Whelan and Mick O'Connell will ride either of St Matthew and Royal Emperor."
A cracking renewal of the totesport.com
Becher Chase is in prospect
with 21 runners including 2003 victor and John Smith's Grand National
regular Clan Royal, trained by Jonjo O'Neill, as well as the Paul Nicholls-trained
Eurotrek, Irish raider Dun Doire from the Tony Martin yard, and the Venetia
Williams-trained 2006 John Smith's Grand National fourth Nil Desperandum.
The superb field also includes last season's totesport.com Becher Chase
runner-up Le Duc, 2005 Scottish Grand National hero Joe's Edge, 2004
Grand Sefton Chase winner Forest Gunner, and the Donald McCain-trained
Aintree's six-race card on Sunday also features the totepool Grand Sefton
Handicap Chase over two miles, five and a half furlongs of the Grand
National course, and 23 runners are set to make it a thriller, including
2005 victor Hakim, trained by John Spearing.
The field also includes last season's third, fifth and sixth - Shannon's Pride, trained by 2003 John Smith's Grand National-winning rider Richard Guest, the Steve Brookshaw-trained Cassia Heights and Wain Mountain from Jim Old's yard.
Hawke Hoping To Relive Aintree Glory
The North West Masters, now in its second year, continues at Aintree
on Sunday, November 19, when the thrilling six-race card features two
races over the world famous Grand National fences - the £100,000
totesport.com Becher Chase (2.35pm) and the £60,000 totepool Grand
Sefton Handicap Chase (1.30pm).
Nigel Hawke tasted the ultimate Aintree glory as a jockey when partnering
Seagram to victory in the 1991 John Smith's Grand National, and he could
bid for a training success over the big fences with Soeur Fontenail in
the totepool Grand Sefton Handicap Chase.
The Somerset handler revealed today: "It's 50/50 at the present moment and obviously I'd love to take her to Aintree. I have a little bit of a problem in that the two or three jockeys I use are all jocked up at the moment. If I can get a top jockey then I would most likely run her.
"She's in at Ascot as well as Aintree, and also at Kempton next week, so where she goes will also depend on the ground. I wouldn't want it too soft."
Soeur Fontenail experienced the Grand National fences in last season's
renewal of the two mile, five and a half-furlong totepool Grand Sefton
Handicap Chase, but fell at the fifth fence in the race won by the John
Hawke reported: "If anything, she's too good a jumper. Last year she pinged the chair then jumped the water, which is the smallest jump on the course, and she basically over-jumped and landed on her head.
"She's the best jumper ever seen and this is why I want to take
her there, but I do have some reservations as to whether the fences will
suit her because she is such a clean jumper.
"She's in good form and had a nice run first time out. The mare has won over the trip and she gives everyone a lot of fun, so it would be nice to have another try at the big Aintree fences."
The totepool Grand Sefton Handicap Chase has attracted a 33-strong entry
headed by Hakim, and includes last season's third, fourth, fifth and
sixth - Shannon's Pride, Tanterari, Cassia Heights and Wain Mountain.
King's Glen Hoping To Follow In Bobbyjo's Footsteps
Trainer Tommy Carberry is hoping to see the colours made famous by his Grand National winner Bobbyjo carried once more to victory over the big Aintree fences aboard King's Glen, who is set to take his chance in either the £100,000 totesport.com Becher Chase (2.35pm) or the £60,000 totepool Grand Sefton Chase (1.30pm) at Aintree on Sunday, November 19.
The three and a quarter mile totesport.com Becher Chase, the feature
event at Aintree on day two of the North West Masters, is the preferred
option for the County Meath trainer who saddled Bobbyjo to success for
owner Bobby Burke in the 1999 John Smith's Grand National.
Carberry revealed today: "It's quite likely that King's Glen will
go to the totesport.com Becher Chase but he is also in the totepool Grand
Sefton Handicap Chase, so I'll have to see what the weights are when
they come out tomorrow.
"I'll see how the horse is through the week and what the ground is likely to be on Saturday before making my mind up. He likes some cut in the ground."
King's Glen unseated Philip Carberry in the John Smith's Topham Chase
on his only previous attempt over the famous Grand National fences at
Aintree in April. The 10-year-old has had two starts this season in handicap
hurdles at Galway (October 30), and Naas (November 11), finishing 11
lengths ninth of 16 over an inadequate two miles on the latter occasion.
Carberry commented: "He hit the ditch on the way down to Bechers'
and unseated last season but before that he was going well. We're hopeful
that we can go back to Aintree in the spring with him.
"We ran him over hurdles to sharpen him up. It's just been a case of trying to get him fit enough to go to the totesport.com Becher Chase."
The totesport.com Becher Chase has attracted 30 entries including the Jonjo O'Neill-trained 2003 Becher Chase winner and 2004 John Smith's Grand National runner-up Clan Royal, the Paul Nicholls-trained Eurotrek, 2005 Scottish Grand National winner Joe's Edge, and this year's John smith's Grand National fourth Nil Desperandum, as well as a seven-strong Irish-trained contingent including Jack High, Dun Doire and Pearly Jack.
My Way De Solzen May Head King's Strong North West Masters Team 14/11/06
Saturday's card at Haydock features the £200,000 Grade One Betfair Chase (1.50pm) and the £100,000 Betfair Handicap Hurdle (2.20pm) over two miles, seven and a half furlongs.
The Alan King-trained Halcon Genelardais, winner of the Grade Two totepool
Towton Novices' Chase at Wetherby last term is engaged in both contests
and the trainer is at this stage favouring the highly-competitive hurdle,
which has 36 entries.
King revealed today: "My gut feeling is that Halcon Genelardais will go in the Betfair Handicap Hurdle rather than the Betfair Chase. There are so few options at the moment, so the idea is to give him a run there before we go chasing again with him. He had a great summer and I think he's improved so I'm very happy with him."
The Betfair Handicap Hurdle saw subsequent Grade One Ladbrokes World
Hurdle victor My Way De Solzen, trained by King, finish second to the
Sue Smith-trained St Matthew and this year could see the unbeaten Black
Jack Ketchum go one better by winning the £100,000 contest before
securing his ultimate goal of the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham
King is also looking to run his exciting pair Self Respect and Blazing
Bailey, who are likely to take their chances in the Listed Pontin's Holidays
Novices' Hurdle (1.20pm) and J W Lees Handicap Hurdle (2.50pm) at Haydock
on Saturday, while My Way De Solzen could make his much-anticipated chasing
bow at Aintree on Sunday in the Amberleigh House Novices' Chase (3.10pm)
over two miles.
King reported: "My Way De Solzen is well and schooled this morning over fences. He'll school twice more this week. He'll only just be ready for Sunday so it depends on how he schools and whether they get a lot of rain. We want soft ground for him. I'd like to run him there so we'll see."
My Way De Solzen is one of 13 entries for the contest, which also includes
the Howard Johnson-trained Lennon, winner of the intercasino.co.uk Molyneux
Novices' Chase at Aintree in October, Rasharrow, L'Antartique, Blu Teen,
and Bob Hall.
King continued: "Self Respect's form was given a good boost with Moon Over Miami - who he beat at Kempton - winning at Cheltenham on Friday. He schooled this morning and he'll work midweek. He's very likely to run in the Pontin's Holidays Newton Novices' Hurdle.
"I want to go up in trip with Blazing Bailey but with a lack of
options we might just give him a run over two miles in the J W Lees Hurdle
to get him started. I'm sure he's going to want two and a half miles-plus
in time but it might be the ideal race to get a run into him.
"I think the North West Masters is wonderful with the amount of prize money on offer and I'll support it as much as possible. I'm looking forward to a good weekend."
REGION HOPING FOR FURTHER SUCCESS
The 2005 North West Masters attracted nearly 20,000 visitors into the region with research showing that over £1.7million was spent by racegoers attending the meeting. Saturday's racing at Haydock Park saw over 12,000 people packed into its stands - the biggest jumping attendance for over 20 years - with Aintree attracting over 7,000 visitors, despite only passing a midday inspection.
Martin King, Director of Tourism at The Mersey Partnership, said: "The North West Masters event last year proved a resounding success and I'm confident that this year's will prove to be even bigger and better. I see the Masters as becoming another major fixture in Merseyside's incredible calendar of festivals and events."
The weekend in 2006 boasts a tremendous prize money total of £600,000,
making the North West Masters two of the most valuable days in the British
Kirkland Tellwright, Clerk of the Course Haydock Park Racecourse, commented
today: "The inaugural running of the Betfair Chase certainly lived
up to its billing and attracted many of the leading chasers from Britain
"With a £50,000 increase in prize money, the Betfair Chase
is now one of the richest chases of the entire season and we look forward
to another fascinating contest.
"Haydock Park would like to extend its support to Betfair once
again for initiating the most exciting development in jump racing of
recent years and we sincerely hope that their generosity and foresight
will be rewarded.
"Last year's North West Masters was a major event for the local area and we again thank the support provided by the Northwest Regional Development Agency, the Mersey Partnership, Sefton and St Helens Councils."
Charles Barnett, Aintree's Managing Director, said today: "We are
looking forward to welcoming racegoers to the North West. The quality
of racing is first class and the event gives people the chance to experience
two of the UK's premier racecourses in one weekend.
"Racegoers planning to visit the two-day meeting are already purchasing
tickets and we are expecting thousands of visitors to attend the North
West Masters in November.
"Running both the totesport Becher Chase and the totepool Grand Sefton Chase on the same day last year proved to be a great success. Racegoers were rewarded with two thrilling finishes over the Grand National fences and this was the perfect sequel to the Betfair Chase at Haydock the previous day."
Tickets are available for both Haydock and Aintree - call 01942 402 624 (Haydock) and 0151 522 2929 (Aintree). Accommodation booking is available on 0845 601 1125.
THE NORTH WEST MASTERS - ORDER OF RUNNING
Haydock Park, Saturday, November 18, 2006
TBA* Betfairpoker.com Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) 3m £70,000
TBA* Gordon Plant Newton Novices Hurdle Class 1 (Listed Race) 2m £25,000
TBA Red Square Brush Novices Hurdle (Class 2) 2m 4f £35,000
TBA Steve Bell H'cap Chase (0-130) (Class 3) 2m £20,000
TBA J.W.Lees Jump/Flat Jockeys Challenge H'cap Hurdle (0-125) (Class 3) 2m £15,000
First race 1.20pm, last race 3.55pm
Aintree, Sunday, November 19, 2006
Race Distance Prize Money
1.40pm* totepool Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (Class
3) 2m 5½f £60,000
2.10pm* totesport 0800 221 221 Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) 2m 4f £30,000
2.50pm* totesport.com Becher Handicap Chase (Class
1) 3m 2f £100,000
3.20pm Valentines Novices Chase (Class 2) 2m £20,000
3.50pm Ormskirk Novices' Handicap Hurdle (Class 3) 2m 4f £10,000
* BBC Televised Races TOTAL £235,000
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