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RACING: Marcel flop in mudbath; FESTIVAL SHAKE-UP.

Byline: By Garry Owen (Alan Thomson) who napped Essex (4-1) at Newbury

LEADING novice Marcel's Cheltenham bubble burst with a loud bang at Exeter yesterday.

For most of the winter Martin Pipe's prolific winning hurdler has been head of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle betting market.

But he was run ragged by Alan King's My Way De Solzen, who will only run at Cheltenham if there is some cut in the ground.

Pipe said: 'I have no obvious excuse. All I can say is that it was horrible ground.'

Ladbrokes (Supreme Novices): 7 (from 10) Justified, 10 (from 5) Marcel, 10 (from 33) My Way De Solzen, 14 (from 16) Olaso, Wild Passion, 16 Akshar, Arcalis, 20 bar.

There was quite a shake-up in other Cheltenham ante-post markets over the weekend.

The Arkle Trophy is turning out to be a bogey for ante-post favourites.

First Kauto Star broke a bone in his leg after a fall and yesterday in Ireland Jessica Harrington's well touted Ulaan Baatar was trounced by Watson Lake.

Impressive Watson Lake, sent off at 3-1, came home 20 lengths clear and trainer Noel Meade said: 'We can dream again. If he can relax as well at Cheltenham that would be a big help.'

Watson Lake's Arkle price was slashed, while another Irish ace, War Of Attrition, remains a warm favourite.

Ladbrokes (Arkle): 4 War Of Attrition, 8 Watson Lake, 9 Contraband, 10 River City, 12 Ned Kelly, Ulaan Baatar, 14 Foreman, Mariah Rollins, 16 My Will, 20 bar.

Earlier on the Navan card, Emotional Moment was a very easy winner of the Boyne Hurdle after his task was made simple by Solerina's early fall.

The gelding's Ladbrokes World Hurdle odds were cut to 12-1.

Point Barrow also jumped into the Cheltenham picture after his battling victory in the Ten Up Novice Chase.

Trainer Dessie Hughes said: 'He'll be entered for the four-mile National Hunt Chase.'

Nicky Henderson's team are hitting form at the right time and yesterday's winner Sleep Bal could well head for the inaugural Jewson Novices' Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

At Ayr, Faasel (1-5) continued his Triumph Hurdle education with another stroll over moderate opposition.

Totesport were top priced 9-4 Azertyuiop after his Newbury win on Saturday but yesterday cut the Queen Mother Champion Chaser to 15-8 after heavy support. Moscow Flyer has been eased to 13-8 from 6-4.

CAPTION(S):

LEAP INTO THE UNKNOWN: Faasel (left) warms up for the Festival at Ayr yesterday
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 14, 2005
Words:411
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