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Barton set to head a star-studded novice bill; Seebald and Armaturk also entered at Ascot to set up possibility of a mouthwatering clash.

Byline: Jon Lees

BARTON, Seebald and Armaturk, three of the season's leading novice chasers, could square up at Ascot on Saturday in the Grade 2 Victor

Chandler Online Chase.

However, with the weather possibly affecting matters, all three have also been given an entry in the Roscoe Harvey Memorial Novices' Chase at Warwick, while Barton's preferred target is the Cantor Index Dipper Novices' Chase at Newcastle.

Seebald, owned by the soccer stars Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman, completed his sixth successive win over fences when bolting up at Ascot last month, but any attempt to extend the sequence depends on the ground, according to racing manager Graham Bradley.

"Everything hinges on the ground," he said. "If the ground is good, there is a possibility he might run. He's got as good form as anything, especially over two miles.

"The plan is to have one more run before Cheltenham. Martin [Pipe] will make a few entries for him at Cheltenham and the Arkle is the likely target."

Seebald beat Armaturk by eight lengths when the pair met at Cheltenham in November, but the former has since hacked up at Newbury.

Jeremy Young, assistant to trainer Paul Nicholls, said: "We will see how the races look, but we are slightly favouring Ascot at this stage."

The Queen Mother's First Love, also engaged at Warwick, is more likely to run in the Victor Chandler Make Sport More Exciting Novices' Hurdle at Ascot, according to trainer Nicky Henderson.

"Ascot might suit him better than Warwick and that's where Mick [Fitzgerald] is going," he said.

Barton is pencilled in for the Dipper Chase, which promises to be one of the best novice events of the season.

Tim Easterby's charge could face Len Lungo's exciting prospect Direct Access in a race which has also attracted Armaturk and the useful pair Hussard Collonges and Historg at the five-day stage.

"You'll need a good horse to win it," said Peter Easterby last night, "but Barton is one and let's hope the weather holds so that we can get another run into him at Newcastle."

ARKLE Trophy

Coral: 6 Moscow Flyer, 7 Seebald, 10 Blue Royal, Fondmort, 12 Grimes, Youlneverwalkalone, 14 Armaturk, Asador, Europa, Katarino, Royal Auclair, St Pirran,

Mr Cool, 16 bar.


Seebald could seek a seven-timer granted good ground
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 8, 2002
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