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Inglis favourite to double up in Order ofMerit.

Byline: LEE MOTTERSHEAD

INGLIS DREVER, who scooped pounds 250,000 for his connections when winning the inaugural BHB Order of Merit, has been installed 9-4 favourite with Totesport to once again emerge victorious in the points-based initiative.

The Howard Johnson-trained six-year-old, who took the scalp of Baracouda when landing the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, is clear in Totesport's list ahead of Well Chief at 4-1, Kicking King at 6-1 and Moscow Flyer at 10-1.

"We were obviously thrilled to win the first Order of Merit with Inglis Drever," said Johnson yesterday.

"It was a great effort by all of my team here and I was thrilled that they were rightly rewarded for all their hard work. We will certainly be targeting the Order of Merit series again with horses like Mephisto, No Refuge and Inglis Drever."

The Order of Merit, which encompasses all 63 nonnovice British Grade 1, 2 and 3 races and seeks to encourage the top jumpers to run in the top races more often, will once again offer pounds 50,000 apiece to the leading chaser and hurdler, with the overall winner landing a further pounds 200,000. As last year, the scoring system ranges from 20 points going to a Grade 1 winner and one point for the eighth in a Grade 3 race.

The inaugural Order of Merit was hailed a success, with the number of associated races being run with eight or more runners increasing by 40 per cent from 32 races to 45. As a further testament to its efficacy, the number of Order of Merit races with field sizes of less than eight fell to 18 from a previous four-year average of 31.

P aul Nicholls, who trained Azertyuiop to top last season's Order of Merit chase rankings, has Kauto Star as his shortest-priced contender at 12-1.

BHB ORDER OF MERITTotesport: 9-4 Inglis Drever, 4 Well Chief, 6 Kicking King, 10 Moscow Flyer, 12 Harchibald, Kauto Star, 20 Ashley Brook, Baracouda, Best Mate, No Refuge,25 bar.

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Inglis Drever: World Hurdle winner installed 9-4 favourite
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 7, 2005
Words:348
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