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Racing: Azertyuiop can take golden opportunity.

Byline: Stable Boy

Jumping fans have something to savour today when a select band of chasers go to post for the William Hill Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter.

Henrietta Knight's grand campaigner Edredon Bleu takes on Paul Nicholls' rising star Azertyuiop, his stable companion Kadarann and the Martin Pipe-trained duo Seebald and Wahiba Sands.

Edredon Bleu has already shown his well being this season with an impressive victory at Wincanton and this former champion will be difficult to beat as usual. But the one that really takes the eye is Azertyuiop.

The exciting grey will be setting out on the Queen Mother Champion Chase trail and last season's top novice looks a good bet to get his new campaign off to a winning start.

Azertyuiop won all his four starts over fences last term culminating in a breathtaking 11length success in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.

The six-year-old looked one of the best winners of the prestigious race in the last decade.

Azertyuiop has been precocious throughout his career and his brilliant jumping and change of gear promise to take him to the top of the chasing tree.

Henry Cecil's runners are rare visitors to Catterick these days but the former champion trainer has sound prospects of a double with Larking About and Namaste.

Larking About is taken to win the Oliver Cromwell Handicap over a mile and six furlongs.

Larking About is one of the yard's lesser lights but she has shown progressive form on her three starts to suggest a small prize could come her way.

The well-bred daughter of Silver Hawk stayed on to finish a five-length second of 14 to Ponderon after a slow start in a Lingfield maiden over 13 furlongs last time.

Today's longer trip will be in her favour and Larking About would not have to improve too much to open her account.

Cecil can also be on the mark earlier on the card with another well-bred filly, Namaste, in the second division of the Hambleton Maiden Stakes.

She was very slowly into her stride on her debut at Newbury and was well behind but started to get the hang of things in the second half of the race and stayed on in the closing stages to finish third to Pride.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 4, 2003
Words:382
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