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Racing: Festive gift for Noel?

IRISH raider Harchibald is an odds-on shot to make it two Grade Ones win on the bounce in the Stan James Christmas Hurdle at Kempton today.

Noel Meade's five-year-old is 4-5 with totesport, while Ladbrokes and William Hill go 8-11 about his chances of landing the two-mile event.

Harchibald comes into this race on the back of a hugely impressive success in the 'Fighting Fifth' Hurdle at Newcastle last time, when he beat Inglis Drever by two lengths without being asked a serious question.

That run followed on from another stylish success in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown, where he beat Back In Front a length and a half.

'Everything has gone to plan and he's in good form,' said County Meath-based Meade. 'He is due to travel over tomorrow on the ferry with Kicking King and arrive at Kempton some time in the afternoon.

'He's been fine since Newcastle and he's well. I should think Rooster Booster will be the one we all have to beat, so it's fingers crossed.'

The ever-popular veteran Rooster Booster will be having a second crack at the race after finishing runner-up to Intersky Falcon last year.

Philip Hobbs's charge is the 5-2 second favourite with Ladbrokes after finishing a respectable fourth behind Back In Front in the Bula Hurdle last time.

The 10-year-old finished in front of Harchibald in the Emo Oil Champion Hurdle at Punchestown last April, when he was second to Hardy Eustace with Sunday's rival back in fourth.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Dec 26, 2004
Words:248
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