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Hors La Loi to meet Festival rivals again in Aintree Hurdle.

Byline: ROY BRIGGS

Saturday's Martell Aintree Hurdle is shaping up into a re-run of the finish of the Smurfit Champion Hurdle, with the prospect of the first four likely to be in action again.

James Fanshawe said yesterday his Cheltenham Festival hero, Hors La Loi, is in "terrific form" and on course for a tilt at the pounds 120,000-added two-and-a-half-mile event, which attracted 20 entries at the five-day stage.

The Newmarket trainer said: "The weather has been kind to us in the last week as the horse likes the top of the ground, and at the moment we are aiming to run.

"They tell me the ground is good, good to firm, which is ideal for him. He's been in terrific form since Cheltenham and we know he is just as effective over the longer trip."

Champion Hurdle runner-up Marble Arch, Bilboa (third), Geos (fourth) and Mister Morose (eighth) are among the possible rivals, who also include two other Festival scorers in Ilnamar -

25-1 surprise winner of the Coral Eurobet Hurdle - and Rooster Booster, who won the County Hurdle.

The race could also mark the eagerly awaited comeback from injury of Nicky Henderson's Blue Royal, although he also holds other options in the Cordon Bleu Hurdle on the same card and Friday's Martell Noblige Handicap Hurdle.

The seven-year-old gelding finished third to Istabraq in the Champion Hurdle two years ago - only a neck behind Hors La Loi - but has not been out since pulling up lame at Punchestown two months later.

As well as Ilnamar, Martin Pipe has five other entries including Copeland, Wahiba Sands and Rodock.

Among the ten entries for the pounds 75,000-added Martell Maghull Novices' Chase are the Arkle Chase runner-up Seebald and Armaturk, who finished 13 lengths further adrift in third.

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Hors La Loi: "in terrific form" according to James Fanshawe
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 2, 2002
Words:309
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