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Saturday Briefing: Abbajabba bids for fourth win.

Abbajabba, who failed to make the cut for last Saturday's Ladbroke Ayr Gold Cup, is fancied to gain compensation at Haydock today.

Chris Fairhurst, who has placed the gelding astutely to win three of his five starts this season, declined the opportunity to run Abbajabba in the Silver Cup instead of today's Akzo Nobel Holdings Handicap, reasoning: "It was only pounds 15,000-added and the owner didn't want to pick up a whacking Class B penalty for that sort of money.

"The main target is the Coral Handicap at York next month, which is pounds 30,000-added, but the Haydock race would be well worth winning on the way and I think he's got a good chance. Dropping back to five furlongs won't be a problem on that ground, and I'm happy with his draw [stall 3], as he's not a front-runner and can drop in and get a good tow."

Intrum Morshaan returns to Haydock on a retrieval mission in the Ackzo Nobel Premier Handicap, having finished only seventh when all the rage for a similar race three weeks ago.

Confidence in the John Dunlop camp is not high, however, with racing secretary Marcus Hosgood explaining: "When she won so easily the time before, people saw her as one of those improving fillies who would go on and win again, but they got a bit carried away and the 11lb which the handicapper raised her was a gross over-reaction. I'll be happy to eat humble pie if I'm wrong, but the 2lb she has come down since doesn't look enough."

No more encouraging is Hosgood's news about stablemate Don't Surrender in the Bet Direct Autumn Handicap, in which the sponsors are offering one-quarter the odds the first three, instead of the usual one-fifth, an offer they are extending to the first five home in Ascot's Tote Trifecta Handicap.

Hosgood says: "He's been very disappointing since his third to Lincoln Dancer at Haydock in May, and though Pat Eddery blamed the draw at Newmarket next time, he stopped very quickly at York."

Ian Balding is more positive about the chance of Tweed Mill in the same race. The filly won by a wide margin in the mud at Epsom in the spring and Balding says: "She was a bit too free at Sandown last time, but that was her first run in a while and she got tired. She's got her ground again and she's got a squeak."

Robin Dickin, praying that the rain clouds do not descend on Market Rasen, is optimistic about his in-form gelding Skram gaining his fourth win in a row, live on Channel 4.

"The horse is absolutely thriving and I'm very hopeful. Since he's started winning, his confidence has grown and grown," says the Stratford trainer ahead of the Wilkin Chapman Centenary Novices' Chase, one of two pounds 10,000 races televised from the Lincolnshire course.

"That said, if there was a lot of rain and the ground happened to turn good to soft, I wouldn't run him.

"I think Native Man will be the one to beat, but it's a little saying of mine that you never run away from one horse," he adds.

Karowna, who must go down as one of the unluckiest losers of the season so far after her last-flight fall at Hereford earlier this month, bids to gain compensation in the other Channel 4 race.

The Steve Brookshaw filly, sent off the odds-on favourite on the strength of her half-length second in a novice hurdle at the Galway Festival, had the race at Hereford at her mercy when sprinting clear of her rivals.

Today she goes in the Geo. Akins Bookmakers Handicap Hurdle, with Brookshaw saying: "She was a bit stiff for a day or two, but otherwise she was fine after her fall. It was just one of those things, a novicey mistake."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Sep 23, 2000
Previous Article:Piggott, Starkey clash; Retired stars both partner fancied contenders in Cologne invitation race.
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