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Racing: Dancer is Given another chance.

Byline: DAVE MITCHELL

HUGS Dancer and Riyadh have both been well-backed today for the Foster's Lager Northumberland Plate at Newcastle on Saturday.

The field for the two-mile marathon has cut up significantly at the overnight stage and 16 runners are set to go to post for the pounds 140,000 contest.

James Given's Hugs Dancer was surprise name among the field as he only ran - and won - in the Cumberland Plate at Carlisle on Thursday.

But he is now an 11-1 chance with Hills after being supported at 14s, with Martin Pipe's Ascot Stakes winner Riyadh now vying for favouritism at 4-1 (from 6-1).

Given explained his change of heart, saying: "I was mulling it over overnight and thinking 'probably not'," the trainer said.

"But then I pick up the paper this morning and see this is not going to run and that is out and thought 'why not have a go'?

"It's cut up quite a lot really and we've got a great draw as well in three. John Bramhill will ride - he rode him into second behind Sarangani at York on his first run of the year so he knows the old horse."

Given fears Mr Dinos, 3-1 favourite and one of two Paul Cole runners along with last year's winner Archduke Ferdinand, may scupper his five-year-old's bid to atone for an unlucky-in-running seventh behind Riyadh at the Royal meeting.

"I think the horse to be wary of is Mr Dinos - he's probably the least exposed of some of the other horses," he said.

"Riyadh just beat us at Ascot but we had shocking bad luck and I actually think the horse could have won that race.

"He finished seventh and we had terrible bad luck and it will be interesting to see how we run against Riyadh."

Given reports his charge none the worse for his Carlisle exertions.

"He was absolutely fine this morning - that was the first thing to check," he said.

"He came out of the box bucking and fed his face full of grass and I'm very happy with him or else I wouldn't be running him."

Conditions, officially described as "good to firm, good in many places" look set to suit the Given runner.

He added: "I think he's probably best on fast ground really. We've got to have a go."

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SURPRISE: James Given
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 29, 2002
Words:393
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Next Article:Racing: NEEDY ... OR GREEDY.


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