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Racing: The only way is up.

Byline: ARGUS

NATIVE UPMANSHIP looks a stand-out bet to claim the Martell Cognac Melling Chase at Aintree today for the second successive year.

Arthur Moore's 10-year-old hardly ever runs a bad race but there are not many top-quality contests around at what is his ideal trip of two miles and five furlongs.

He generally just finds one too good over two miles,although he has finished runner-up in the Queen Mother Champion Chase for the last two seasons,and runs out of gas at the top level over three miles or more.

But he takes some beating over tomorrow's distance,as witnessed by his victory over Wahiba Sands last term when he stayed on well having come there strongly at the last. His effort behind Moscow Flyer at Cheltenham shows he is as good as ever and it is going to take a good one to lower his colours today.

Don Fernando was still going well enough when he was brought down three fences from home in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham but compensation awaits in the Laurel Pub Company Top Novices' Hurdle.

He has shown smart form all season,coupled with a willing attitude,and he is Tony McCoy's pick from Martin Pipe's two runners tomorrow.

Pillaging Pict gets the vote in the Martell Cognac Sainsbury's Topham Chase over the Grand National fences.

This progressive eight-year-old has won twice at Kelso this season and the fences at the Borders track are pretty stiff but Pillaging Pict handled them well.

He put up a career best there last time when he beat Scotmail Lad by an easy six lengths,after travelling strongly throughout the race.

Pillaging Pict is a sound jumper and should be able to cope with the National obstacles well enough to claim a big prize for Morpeth-based permit holder Jim Walton.

Cheltenham trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has only just started to have runners after being forced to shut down for three weeks after some inmates of his yard contracted a rare strain of equine herpes virus.

But now they are back in action the winners will start to flow and Shardam can give Twiston-Davies a boost ahead of Bindaree's bid for another success in the Grand National, with victory in the Martell Cognac V. S.Thresher Handicap Chase.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 4, 2003
Words:380
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