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Channel 4 agree deal with BBC to show Ascot race.

Byline: JON LEES

RACING from Ascot will make its first appearance on Channel 4 screens on Saturday after the BBC agreed a one-off deal yesterday allowing the rival broadcaster to show the Reynoldstown Chase.

With the BBC schedules taken up by the latest matches in the Six Nations rugby championship, it had no room for racing.

Yesterday, BBC executives approved a request from Channel 4 Racing to show the prestigious novices' chase - a trial for the Royal & SunAlliance Chase - during its scheduled coverage of the fixtures at Wincanton and Newcastle.

Ascot's head of PR Nick Smith said: "The BBC have talked to Channel 4 and came to the conclusion that it is not going to conflict with its exclusivity agreement to allow Channel 4 to show this one race.

"It's a one-off scenario and the BBC were willing to drop their exclusivity in the interests of the wider racing public."

The meeting is one of only two out of 27 Ascot fixtures in 2004 that will not be shown by the BBC.

Barbara Slater, the BBC's head of general sports, said: "During such a busy time in the BBC sporting calendar, particularly with the Six Nations and the fact that where possible the BBC avoids scheduling sport against sport, it is not possible to broadcast racing from Ascot.

"Due to the unique circumstances and not wanting to disappoint the racing audience, it has been agreed that Channel 4 will broadcast racing from Ascot on this occasion."

Entries for the race yesterday included a number of Festival hopefuls, though the likely make-up of the field was unclear.

The race is one of three options for Our Vic, D'Argent's preferred entry is at Wincanton, Calling Brave could wait a week and Patricksnineteenth may not be suited by the ground.

David Johnson, owner of Our Vic, said: "He's in at Taunton and Sandown as well. He will run

somewhere this week but I don't know where. I've not seen the Ascot entries, but Sandown may suit him better than Taunton."

D'Argent's trainer Alan King said Wincanton's CGA Chase was

the "first preference", while the ground may put off Nicky Henderson, trainer of Calling Brave.

"It may be a bit on the quick side for Calling Brave and I'm tempted to wait for Kempton, though I do want to get a race into him before the SunAlliance," Henderson said.

Paul Webber had similar concerns for his Scilly Isles Novices' Chase

winner Patricksnineteenth. "I fear it's going to be too dry," he said. "I've

spoken to [clerk of the course] Nick Cheyne and there are a couple of places where it's good to firm. It would have to rain for us to turn up."

Henrietta Knight said Rosslea "would only run if it looked a weak race and there was cut in the ground", while Paul Nicholls said L'Aventure would run if the ground continues to dry out.

Reynoldstown Chase

Cashmans: 5-2 D'Argent, Our Vic, 5 Calling Brave, 6 Patricksnineteenth, 7 Supreme Prince, 14 Double Honour, L'Aventure, Rosslea, 20 bar.


D'Argent: joint-favourite for Saturday's Reynoldstown, but more likely to run at Wincanton the same day
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 17, 2004
Previous Article:O'Neill's Dark Room among 24 Eider Chase entries.
Next Article:Big Moment to take the same route as Vagador for his SunAlliance prep.

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