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Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Camping Ground 'unlikely' to pitch up in Champion field

Camping Ground (Josh Moore) romps home in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell but will not be supplemented for the Champion Hurdle
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Runaway National Spirit winner Camping Ground is "highly unlikely" to figure among Gary Moore's depleted Cheltenham Festival team and will wait instead for Aintree.

There had been some talk of supplementing the seven-year-old for the Stan James Champion Hurdle, so impressive was he when giving Le Rocher 8lb and a 29-length beating on his debut for the stable at Fontwell.

But the £20,000 supplementary fee would need paying on Wednesday, and Moore is not seeing enough rain in the forecast to advocate that move.

He said: "The ground would need to be soft, verging on heavy, and that's not looking likely.

'He's not a slow horse'

"He's come out of the Fontwell race very well and I'd be happy to run if it went that way, but I'm not going to pay £20,000 while it's officially mostly good to soft, when I can wait instead for the two-and-a-half mile Grade 1 at Aintree [Betway Aintree Hurdle]."

He added: "He's got entries in two other races at Cheltenham, but he's not going to run in the Coral Cup off 160 and he wouldn't have been entered in the Stayers' Hurdle if I knew then what I know now, as he's not a slow horse and put up one of the speed figures of the season at Fontwell. I don't think he'd stay."

Moore had shocking luck in the run-up to last year's festival, with injury to his top novices, and this time will be without 2014 Champion Chase winner Sire De Grugy and fellow Grade 1 scorer Ar Mad.

He said: "It looks as if we might have only two runners – Baron Alco in the handicap we won with Tikram [Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate] and Traffic Fluide in either the Champion Chase or the Ryanair."

It was dry at Cheltenham on Tuesday, but there had been 2mm of rain on Monday night, prompting a slight easing in the going description on the Old and New courses to good to soft, soft in places.

There was 30mm of rain on the Wednesday before the festival 12 months ago, but nothing on that scale is anticipated this time.

Clerk of the course Simon Claisse, who reported all 299 of the track's boxes steam-cleaned and awaiting arrivals, said: "The forecast remains unsettled, and we could get another 4-6mm of rain in the next 48 hours."

I'm not going to pay £20,000 while it's mostly good to soft, when I can wait instead for the two-and-a-half mile Grade 1 at Aintree
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