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Puntal 2-1 Tolworth favourite in absence of Cowboy.

Byline: Bill Barber

Bill Barber

PUNTAL has been installed as 2-1 favourite for the Tote Tolworth Hurdle by bookmakers Cashmans following the news that Rhinestone Cowboy will miss Saturday's race at Wincanton.

Trainer Jonjo O'Neill is to delay his exciting prospect's return to action, but the Grade 1 contest still retains plenty of interest with the news that Kopeck, who beat Puntal at Ascot last month, also runs.

O'Neill said yesterday that Rhinestone Cowboy would miss the Tolworth as he was "just not firing yet".

He added: "He's all right, he's like a good few of ours - he's just under the weather. We took a chance entering him but to be honest another week or two won't do any harm.

"There are a few races for him. There's one at Wetherby, one at Leopardstown and one at Kempton, so he'll probably end up going for one of them - weather permitting and horse permitting - and if not we'll see how we go. There's no panic."

Connections of Puntal will make a decision on the Martin Pipe-trained novice's participation in the Tolworth later this week.

However, his Ascot conqueror Kopeck, a 7-2 chance with Cashmans, will take his chance.

Josh Gifford's charge, who was receiving 7lb, beat Puntal by two lengths in a Grade 2 race on his jumping debut and is 10-1 joint second- favourite with that rival in Coral's betting on the Gerrard Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Gifford said yesterday: "We didn't know where to go this morning, but in the end we thought if we went to Huntingdon with a lot of runners and he got struck into and knocked about it would be doing more harm than good, so we decided to go for the smaller field. It's better money and it will be good experience for him."

Ladbroke Hurdle winner Chauvinist is Cashmans' 9-4 second-favourite for the Tolworth, with Thisthatandtother the only other horse at single-figure odds at 5-1.

Tolworth Hurdle

Cashmans: 2 Puntal, 9-4 Chauvinist, 7-2 Kopeck, 5 Thisthatandtother, 12 Self Defense, 14 Fair Question, 20 Dumaran, 33 Achilles Wings, Limited Edition, 200 Dispol Rock.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 15, 2003
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