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HORSE RACING: MICK'S SO FOND OF HIS GOLD STAR.

Byline: ROCKAVON

FONDMORT put in a superb round of jumping to take the Tripleprint Gold Cup in tremendous style at Cheltenham yesterday.

Mick Fitzgerald settled Nicky Hendersons young chaser in the rear asWave Rock and Foly Pleasant cut out the running.

At the top of the hill with three to jump Fitzgerald made his move and a fine leap put the 5- 1 chance bang into contention.

Approaching the second last Fondmort and Foly Pleasant had the race between them.

But two fine leaps - particularly at the last - from Fitzgerald's mount settled the issue.

The six-year-old ran on strongly to claim the pounds 58,000 pot by six lengths from Foly Pleasant (7- 1) with heavily backedYoulneverwalkalone (7-2) the same distance back in third.

Cyfor Malta, the 100-30 favourite, finished a well beaten fourth under top weight of 11st 12lb.

Fitzgerald said: "Jumping has always been Fondmort's his strongest suit. In a race like this you can put him anywhere.

"But if you press the brakes and disappoint him you can't get him going again.

"Today I didn't pressed the brakes at all and just said on you go." Henderson, winning his first Tripleprint, said: "It's good to see a horse jump the last like that."

In the Bula Hurdle, Rooster Booster strengthened his position Champion Hurdle favourite.

Richard Johnson sent the 11-8 jolly into the lead two out where current champion Hors La Loi III took a crashing fall.

However, Rooster Booster's stride shortened going to the final flight and the the Philip Hobbs- trained grey was pressed by Landing Light (6-1) on the climb to the line.

But Rooster Booster would not be denied and held his rival off by two and a half lengths with Geos (7-1) a head back in third.

Victor Chandler now make Rooster Booster their 5-1 favourite from 7-1 for the Champion Hurdle.

Hors La Loi III, who had appeared reluctant to race, and jockey Ruby Walsh were none the worse for their mishap.

At Haydock, Irish challenger Sackville found some of his old sparkle to put up a bold front-running performance and record his first success for over a year.

He was given a fine ride by Timmy Murphy despite tending to jump to the left in the closing stages.

Bobby Grant and Kingsmark were on his heels at the final fence but Sackville stayed on gamely to score by one and a half lengths.

Brian Crowley became the latest jockey to be ruled out of the busy Boxing Day programme when he was banned for three days at Fakenham.

He was suspended for failing to weigh in after finishing fourth on Lincoln Cross.

DIRECT ROUTE who in his prime was one of the top two-mile chasers in Britain has been retired.

The 11-year-old was pulled up in the Sea Pigeon Handicap Hurdle at Doncaster and immediately after the race trainer Howard Johnson said: "I've definitely retired him."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 15, 2002
Words:486
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