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Racing: Rock Of Gibraltar decision imminent.

Byline: MIKE TORPEY

A DECISION on the future of champion miler Rock Of Gibraltar is expected within the next few days.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien together with the colt's owners have been considering whether to retire the seven-times Group One winner to Coolmore Stud or keep him in training as a four-year-old.

A host of Ballydoyle stars, headed by dual Derby and Breeders' Cup Turf hero High Chaparral, Hawk Wing, Black Sam Bellamy, Sholokhov and Milan are to grace the racetracks next season.

Traditionally, O'Brien has not kept the stable's leading three-year-olds in training for another season, despite it proving a successful practice for great rivals Godolphin.

But O'Brien will have a lot of maiden three-yearolds in his yard at the start of next term after the virus problems which affected the stable during the summer.

The 2002 turf Flat season finished with Kieron Fallon being confirmed as champion jockey for the fifth time and Michael Kinane pipping Johnny Murtagh to the honour in Ireland.

And Fallon fired a warning to his rivals: ``I am going to concentrate a lot more next year and not ride abroad as often.

``I will be trying to get 200 winners again as I used to do in previous years, so we will see, but for now it is good to be champion again.''

Meanwhile, Willie Mullins has expressed himself concerned with Florida Pearl's condition after his star chaser finished a wellbeaten fourth on his reappearance at Down Royal on Saturday.

Ridden by Barry Geraghty, the 10-year-old trailed home 29 lengths behind the 20-1 winner More Than A Stroll in the James Nicholson Wine Merchants Champion Chase.

The winner, described by his trainer Arthur Moore as being a ``social runner'' will now be trained for Aintree.

Said Moore: ``We will have to see what the handicapper does, but I imagine we'll have to concentrate on the good races with him. I think he will be a horse for the Martell Grand National.''

Red Marauder was ``sound'' after his workout at owner-trainer Norman Mason's Brancepeth stables at the wekend.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 11, 2002
Words:343
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