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Countrywide Flame - Cheltenham 16.03.2012

Countrywide Flame: Triumph Hurdle winner switches codes on Saturday

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (  

Countrywide Flame cut to land big Flat prize

LAST year's surprise JCB Triumph Hurdle winner Countrywide Flame heads the betting with the sponsors for Saturday's Betfred Cesarewitch as the entry list was whittled down to 55 on Monday.

With a maximum safety limit of 34, there are likely to be plenty of twists and turns in the market throughout the week, but Betfred took the decision to cut John Quinn's star to 9-1 (from 10) in wake of the five-day declarations.

Also shortening up in the market were Kepler's Law (20-1 from 25, Ladbrokes) and Alhellal (16-1 from 20-1, William Hill) while Repeater has been shaved into 12-1 despite appearing 39th on the list.

Connections of the Ralph Beckett-trained Albert Bridge, who can be backed at 20-1, are targeting a top-four finish providing the going is deemed suitable for last month's Ayr winner.

Jeff Randall, a member of the Cheyne Walkers syndicate which owns Albert Bridge, said: "We plan to run in the Cesarewitch providing the ground doesn't dry up too much. If the ground is quicker than good, he won't run.

Michael Prosser - September 22, 2011

Michael Prosser: expecting rain

  PICTURE: Getty Images  

"He has been quite a fragile horse in the past but at Ayr he confirmed he is the horse we always thought he could be and I would be delighted if he could finish in the first four."

The ground at Newmarket was good to soft on Monday, with clerk of the course Michael Prosser adding: "The ground has dried out from the weekend and should continue to dry up until Thursday when there is a key front scheduled to come in. 

"We may get around 9mm that evening but we are monitoring it. We are then forecast to be dry with sunny spells on Saturday with temperatures around 13/14C."

Saturday's high-class card also features two Group 1s - the Dewhurst and Middle Park - as well as a pair of Group 2s and the same number of Group 3s.

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