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Horse Racing: Russell lands plum ride for Johnson; HENNESSEY: Davy on fancied Abragante after Murphy and Carberry ruled out.

Byline: By Anita Chambers and Keith Hamer

DAVY Russell has been booked for the plum ride on Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup second - favourite Abragante at Newbury on Saturday.

His owner David Johnson was left looking for a jockey after his retained pilot Timmy Murphy was ruled out through suspension.

Johnson then provisionally booked Paul Carberry for the David Pipe-trained six-year-old only for him to be required by Noel Meade at Newcastle.

"Timmy gets on very well with the horse and Davy Russell is in the same sort of mould. I had one or two others in mind but they had commitments and to be frank I didn't want to be left waiting and be without a rider," Johnson said.

"Davy was available, he can do the weight and will suit the horse."

Abragante has been called one or two names but has hardly put a foot wrong of late and Johnson went on: "He's been much maligned but he's done nothing but improve. He's won his last three races and is an improving horse.

"It just so happens his style of racing is to come from behind and not get there too soon. Timmy had to ask him at Haydock (in May) and he got there very bravely. But he is basically a bridle horse.

"Denman is top weight because he is the best horse in the race. He deserves to be favourite and has a favourite's chance. But we are getting a lot of weight and weight stops horses.

"Hopefully he goes on improving and if he runs like he did at Wincanton (Badger Ales Trophy) he will run a hell of a race. We go there with every chance."

Nicky Henderson believes Juveigneur faces an uphill battle if he is to land a deserved success in the Hennessy.

The 10-year-old has turned in a string of placed efforts in big-race company, including a creditable second behind State Of Play in last year's feature at the Berkshire venue.

Juveigneur has not won over fences since the 2005 Cheltenham Festival but Henderson reports his preparations to have gone to plan in recent weeks.

"He had his run over hurdles at Cheltenham last week, which is exactly the way we went in last year," he said.

"Mick (Fitzgerald) was just as happy with him at Cheltenham the other day.

"It looks a very good race and he's got an awful lot of weight.

"It looks mighty competitive and he's as high in the handicap as he's ever been.

He does deserve one of these.

"It's not a long time since he won, as last season we managed to win a two-mile novice hurdle but in the meantime he has been second in two William Hill Chases (at the Festival), a Betfred (Gold Cup at Sandown) and a Hennessy as well as a Welsh National."

Victor Dartnall's back-toform Sir Rembrandt has a "fighting chance" after scoring for the first time in 18 months and on his debut for Victor Dartnall.

Placed in two Gold Cups, the former Robert Alner inmate appeared revitalised after joining Dartnall's Barnstaple yard in May.

He gained a popular success on his reappearance at Cheltenham earlier this month to book a place in the big staying handicap chase in which he fell at the third fence four years ago.

"He's in good form. He's come out of his Cheltenham race well, so we intend to go," said Dartnall.

James White, in the saddle at Cheltenham, keeps the ride. He claims 3lb which will bring Sir Rembrandt's weight down to 10st 5lb and that includes a 5lb penalty.

"He's on a good weight compared to what he used to be on," added Dartnall.

"We go there with a fighting chance. He may not be good enough but at least it's nice to go there with a little bit of a chance."

CAPTION(S):

YES SIR... Victor Dartnall's Sir Rembrandt is in with a fighting chance in Saturday's Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 28, 2007
Words:662
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