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Festival doubts despite Captain Americo victory; KEMPTON.

Byline: by Graham Dench

CAPTAIN AMERICO looked a horse with a future when winning a 3m handicap hurdle in which his rivals came home strung out like washing.

The seven-year-old had perhaps not received the credit he was due when a narrow winner from hot favourite Charity Lane atWincanton two weeks previously, but there was clearly no fluke about his win there. He was in charge three out here, and was always holding MidasWay, the only one to get anywhere near him, eventually scoring by six lengths.

Captain Americo is now a 20-1 chance (from 33) with Victor Chandler for the new Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham, but trainer Andy Turnell sees him very much as a chaser in the making, and warns he is far from certain to run.

Turnell said: "The 5lb penalty takes him to 11 stone and he might get in now, but we'll have to see how he comes out of this.

He's only just growing into himself and will be a lovely novice chaser next season, but he's not bad over hurdles."

Conditional Felix de Giles has had his share of headlines this winter, but his father Jonathan enjoyed some of the limelight after the pair combined to win the 3m handicap chase with Wednesday Country, who despite his ten-month absence was a well-backed 15-2 chance.

He led after two out before holding the rallying Power King by a head.

De Giles jnr told the owners that Wednesday Country "ran a great race and did very well to win, because I heard his wind go turning in. I was just holding on to him". He added: "We were probably in front too soon and he was idling, but I've never known him jump so well."

His father added: "He likes good ground and a flat track, and everything has to be right."

Gary and Jamie Moore combined to complete a short-priced double with Or Jaune and Fix The Rib.

Fix The Rib scored for the fourth time on the trot when making all to beat Free World by eight lengths in a fourrunner novice handicap chase.

Or Jaune has been placed just as well and the seven-year-old was making it six wins from 13 starts over jumps when beating Oracle Des Mottes by seven lengths in the 3m novice chase.

Both enjoy the current goodish ground and can carry on winning.

Emma Lavelle's Bouggler made an impressive hurdling debut in the 2m5f novice contest, coming home 24 lengths clear of The Shoe. There are no big plans for the four-year-old, and the value of the form of this four-runner affair would be hard to pin down. However, connections understandably regard him as "exciting".

The opening novice hurdle had gone to the Charlie Mann-trained King Brex, who beat Wessex King by a length.

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Star performance

Captain Americo is highly progressive and should be even better when he switches to fences

Happy times

Three successive races went to horses owned by syndicates, with wins for VWH (Wednesdays), which comprises mainly hunting and farming people, followed by success for Axom (XXI) and the Fontwell Park partnership
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 1, 2009
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