Racing: Eduard leads Richards raid

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HIGHLY-regarded Eduard spearheads a quartet of raiders trained by Nicky Richards on one of the feature cards of the season at Kelso today.

Eduard, who is likely to swerve Cheltenham in favour of Aintree, is among six declared for the Grade 2 totepool.com Premier Kelso Hurdle at the Borders track.

Greystoke-based Richards said: “He’s a lovely horse and he won his bumper at Kelso last year when beating our other good young hurdler Duke Of Navan. He’s come out of his race at Carlisle fine and has a nice chance in a decent race. I’d say he’s come up against some of the best novices’ in the country and we like him a lot. I think he’s making the right steps forward and hopefully he’ll make another step forward (today). His form is absolutely rock-solid. We’ll probably step him up in trip after this race.”

Among the rivals facing Eduard are Venetia Williams’ Brick Red and Micky Hammond’s improving Only Orsenfoolsies, who won the Victor Ludorum Hurdle at Haydock last month.

Richards starts with two runners, Early Applause and Top Billing, in the Terry Frame Joiners Novices’ Hurdle. He said: “Early Applause was trained by Charlie Hills before he came here and we are trying to get him to relax. He jumps well enough so hopefully he’ll settle and get the trip. Top Billing showed reasonable form on the Flat with John Gosden and we bought him at Newmarket and he wasn’t that expensive. He’s a good-looking horse and he could be okay.”

Houston Dynimo is the other runner for Richards in the Cyril Alexander Novices’ Chase and he added: “He won well at Worcester towards the end of last summer and he’s been very consistent. He could come into his own in the spring.”

Ballabriggs is one of eight declared for the totepool mobile Text tote to 89660 Premier Chase which carries Listed status for the first time. Donald McCain’s 2011 Grand National hero was second in this in the year of his Aintree triumph and fourth 12 months ago. Kim Bailey’s Harry Topper, unbeaten in three chases starts, and Lucinda Russell’s 2011 Premier Hurdle winner Bold Sir Brian are also pencilled in for a fascinating contest.

Ahead of Ballabriggs run, McCain said: “He is in really good shape and I’m very happy with him. He’s probably a little bit more forward having had the run at Warwick than he has been the last twice he’s run in this race. Hopefully he will run a nice race then head straight to Aintree.”

Ballabriggs has a second preference in the StanJames Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury, in which the Paul Nicholls-trained The Knoxs carries today’s Scotsman nap.

Bold Sir Brian is back in action at Kelso after recovering from a bad fall at Cheltenham in January. The seven-year-old had won both his previous races this season at Carlisle and Sandown and connections are optimistic of a good display.

“He had a dreadful fall last time, but he seems very well and we expect a big run from him,” said Russell’s assistant and partner Peter Scudamore. “He came out of his fall very well and had no side effects from it at all.”

At Lingfield yesterday, David Probert was hit with a 28-day ban for dropping his hands and losing first place. Joint champion apprentice in 2008, Probert will miss the first three weeks of the Flat turf season that starts at Doncaster on 22 March. He was punished by the local stewards after he stopped riding just before the line on Paphos.

It was enough to see the evens favourite beaten a nose by Saharia in the Mr Lover Loveridge Farewell Selling Stakes. Probert will be sidelined from 15-28 March, 30 March to 6 April and 8-13 April inclusive.

• Long Run is set to wear cheekpieces for the first time in public when he aims to regain his crown in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup later this month.

The eight-year-old won the Festival feature in 2011 but endured a disappointing campaign last term, being beaten twice by Kauto Star before having to settle for third behind Synchronised in the Gold Cup. Trainer Nicky Henderson looks to have brought him back to top form this season, with Long Run landing a second King George title on Boxing Day.

However, connections are keen for Long Run to be fully focused in the closing stages of the blue riband and decided to school him in the headgear as an experiment yesterday. After watching him school alongside Queen Mother Champion Chase favourite Sprinter Sacre, owner Robert Waley-Cohen believes the application of cheekpieces on 15 March is likely.

SELECTIONS

Kelso

1.55 Trust Thomas

2.30 Gris Lord

3.05 Sacre Toi

3.40 Eduard (NB)

4.15 Harry Topper

4.50 Solis

5.25 Tommystee

Newbury

2.05 Buck Magic

2.40 Sona Sasta

3.15 Cry Of Freedom

3.50 The Knoxs (nap)

4.25 Go Set Go

5.00 Marie Des Anges

5.35 Act Alone

Doncaster

1.15 Night Force

1.45 Ma Filleule

2.20 Toubab

2.55 Court By Surprise

3.30 Cue To Cue

4.05 Warden Hill

4.40 Beaujolais

Lingfield

1.40 Love You Louis

2.15 Chateau Lola

2.50 Mary’s Pet

3.25 Awattan

4.00 Dr Red Eye

4.35 Bramshill Lass

5.10 Gabrial The Duke

TOMORROW

Huntingdon

2.30 Gee Hi

3.00 Last Shot

3.30 Polly Peachum

4.00 Kauto The Roc

4.30 Tiny Tenor

5.00 Darley Sun (nap)

5.30 Drop Out Joe

Sedgefield

2.20 Phoenix Returns

2.50 Rowan Road

3.20 Prince Blackthorn

3.50 Mansonien L’As

4.20 Master Rajeem

4.50 Ancient Times

5.20 Sleep In First

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