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Julius Caesar has a big chance to conquer rivals; Rocom NEC Handicap Hurdle (2m4 1 / 2f) Notable runners.

Byline: er: David Carr

Julius Caesar bids to conquer new territory after wins at Sedgefield and Newcastle on his last two starts. The well-bred gelding, by Sadler's Wells out of a half-sister to Derby winner Commander In Chief, makes his handicap debut off a mark of 116 and has to give 3lb to fellow novice Tynedale, who was narrowly beaten at Ayr last time.

Ireland's Eye, Donovanand Roobihoo are more exposed, but each is in good form and getting plenty of weight on what is likely to be testing ground.

Quotes Sue Smith, trainer of After Me Boys and Young Dalesman ``After Me Boys has a lot of weight for his first run of the season, but he seems in pretty good order. Young Dalesman has been off a long time. We're on a learning curve with him as we didn't have him before.''

Alistair Whillans, trainer of Crystal Gift and Eastern Tribute ``The stable has been under a cloud. A lot of the horses have been coughing and that's why they have both been off for a while. They seem fit and well in themselves, the horses are starting to run better, and they should be getting over it.''

Howard Johnson, trainer of Julius Caesar ``He stays well, goes on the soft ground and he's improving. He's got a big chance.''

Ian Hamilton, owner of Tynedale ``He really wants three miles, but this will be a stiff two and a half on the soft ground and hewould have a chance. He's a half-brother to Rule Supreme and is a grand little horse, so willing. He was unlucky at Ayr as he just got caught on the nod and I think there's a bit of improvement still to come.''

George Moore, trainer of Presumptuous and Premier Drive ``Presumptuous was third at Hexham, but he doesn't want ground that soft so we have given him a break, freshened him up and got him in the shape to run a big race. Premier Drive is an old man now, but has been running very well this year, although he could do with a little bit further as this isn't his ideal trip.''

Kariana Key, trainer of Merryvale Man ``He ran better than I thought he would at Haydock as that was quite a stiff race. He's just getting back to his old form and I hope he'll run well. Declan McGann claims 7lb and has an affinity with him - and the ground should suit him enormously.''

John Norton, trainer of Ireland's Eye ``He's in good shape and is working well, but I think he's still 4lb the wrong side of his winning mark. But he's a very tough horse and is probably better getting weight from better horses than giving weight away.''

Richard Guest, trainer of Donovan ``He's in great shape. It's a step up in trip and it looks a competitive race, but he should run a good race.''

Chris Grant, trainer of Roobihoo ``He won over two and a half miles there two runs ago, then I don't know whether he quite got home over two miles seven furlongs last time, so we're bringing him back to two and a half. It looks a competitive race and he's gone up in the weights.''
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 2, 2005
Previous Article:Three to watch today.
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