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Friday, 16 November, 2018

Five things to watch out for across the Monday fixtures

Football fans are thankful for Gary Moore's expert eye
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Disappointing turnout

Despite the winner of the Jill's 80th Birthday Novice Chase (1.40) at Plumpton earning connections a £60,000 bonus if going on to score at the Cheltenham Festival in March, the race has attracted only three runners.

Local trainer Gary Moore provides two of the trio, with Benatar a far more likely winner than Britanio Bello.

Moore said: "This race was always in my plan for Benatar because I wanted to keep him low-key. The bonus didn't really enter it.

"I was over the moon with him when he won at Ascot, but this isn't an easy race by any means as Keeper Hill beat him over hurdles at Huntingdon last season, so he will need to have improved if he is going to beat him this time."

Warren Greatrex, responsible for Keeper Hill, said: "It's a pity there are only the three runners, but I suppose novice chases are never going to attract big fields. The bonus was certainly an incentive.

"Keeper Hill had an easy time of it on his first run over fences when he had only one to beat at Stratford, but he has schooled well since and this looked a good opportunity.

"It isn't an easy race but we beat Benatar last season over hurdles and I hope we can do it again."  

Rothman running for Wheelchair Rugby team

Any prize-money that Rothman wins in Plumpton's amateur riders' handicap hurdle (2.40) will go towards the fundraising for the British Wheelchair Rugby team. Its central funding has been withdrawn so it needs to raise £2 million in order to compete in the 2020 Paralympics.

The seven-year-old from the Chris Gordon yard was owned by Kate Digweed, wife of top clay pigeon shooter George, but she has transferred him to her father Roger Alwen, who has owned horses for 20 years and is closely involved in the attempt to raise the money needed for the team to get to Tokyo.

He said: "Funding from UK sport is very much medal-driven and although the team finished fifth in Rio, having been beaten by one point by the winners Australia, and have since won the European Championship in Germany, they lost their money.

"We're trying to raise it for them, and any prize-money Rothman wins will go to the fund. He was second at Plumpton first time so has already contributed £950, but although we're hoping he'll run well it looks pretty competitive for an amateur riders' event."

Elliott has first runner at Leicester

All-conquering County Meath trainer Gordon Elliott has his first runner at Leicester, High Expectations, in the feature £20,000 1m7½f handicap hurdle (1.50).

Richard Johnson takes the ride on the six-year-old, who also travelled across the Irish Sea for his first run of this campaign at Cheltenham last month, where he unseated his jockey three from home when travelling well in a conditionals riders' handicap won by Bobble Emerald.

Cultivator bidding to make up for lapse

Leicester's £12,000 beginners' chase (2.20) has attracted just four runners, but the Nicky Henderson-trained Cultivator, a useful novice over hurdles last season, bids to get his chase career back on track having been pulled up at Cheltenham on his fencing debut.

His trainer reported him perfectly all right after that run, but said Cheltenham was a bit too much for him.

Cultivator and Nico de Boinville on the Seven Barrows schooling grounds in Lambourn

His main rival is the Paul Nicholls-trained Tommy Silver, who was a 146-rated hurdler and was second on his chase debut at Worcester last week.

Henderson also runs Cultivator's year-younger half-sister Melangerie in Leicester's novice hurdle (3.50). She won two bumpers last season and was fifth on her first run over hurdles at Worcester last month.

Star a handicap snip?

Gabrial's Star, from the Richard Fahey yard, will be popular in the 2m½f handicap (4.30) on the eight-race card at Wolverhampton.

A course-and-distance winner in May, he returned to form when bolting up by 11 lengths at Southwell last week and is well in with just a 6lb penalty.

Monday's cards


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I was over the moon with him when he won at Ascot but this isn't an easy race by any means as Keeper Hill beat him over hurdles last season
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