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Racing: FAIRYHOUSE: Beau to arrow Pearl chances.

Byline: MICHAEL CLOWER

FLORIDA Pearl is the big attraction at Fairyhouse today, but Rathgar Beau is napped to upstage the former King George VI Chase winner in the Normans Grove Chase.

My nap ran a cracker when chasing home Beef Or Salmon over two miles at Cork last month when he had Knife Edge four and a half lengths behind but blotted his copybook at Leopardstown last time.

He started joint second favourite, but he weakened before the second last and was well beaten by the time he came down at the final fence.

Eamonn Sheehy blames himself, saying: "I put a sheepskin noseband on him and it was a mistake because he was wearing blinkers and he seemed to be looking at the noseband for much of the race. Shay Barry said it was as if he couldn't see."

Knife Edge would comfortably have reversed the form if Rathgar Beau had stood up that day and you could argue he would have finished a lot closer at Cork had amateur Dennis Cullen been able to claim his 3lb allowance.

But Knife Edge seemed to go particularly well for Cullen who is an ultra-capable rider.

This trip is on the short side for Florida Pearl but he has plenty of pace. This is his first race since Punchestown last April, though, and is hardly likely to be fully fit. Therefore I believe he is worth opposing.

Two miles is too short for Irish National winner Davids Lad but Arctic Copper could pose a major threat. He very nearly beat Edredon Bleu at Clonmel in November and he must have a big chance. Sheehy and Shay Barry may also win the Mulhuddart Novice Hurdle with Kahuna who was found to be sick soon after running below his best in the paddypower.com Future Champions Novice Hurdle at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting.

The seven-year-old has more class than the rest of this opposition, but the major question mark is his unproven stamina over the three mile trip. Those backing him have to take this on trust whereas the hat-trick seeking Inexorable has shown that he gets this distance.

There are several in the Kilsallaghan Beginners Chase with sound claims, but Munster stands out. I was most impressed with the way Arthur Moore's seven-year-old jumped on his chasing debut at Leopardstown.

He proved no match for Direct Bearing when the tap was turned on but he hardly put a foot wrong and I will be disappointed if he does not come out on top.

Moore has a good chance of following up with Fanion de Neulliac in the Dunshaughlin Handicap Chase. He began favourite at Leopardstown and is worth another chance.

The Four Pats attracted the attention of the stewards at Navan last time when he picked up a 42-day ban. This is the subject of an appeal and so the gelding is allowed to run. He only needs to show slight improvement to win the Ratoath Handicap Hurdle.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 18, 2004
Words:499
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