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Swinbank fears Mountain Cat has uphill task in bid for historic trophy; TODAY'S ACTION.

3.05 Carlisle Lloyd Motor Group Carlisle Bell 1m Live on RUK Card page 64 Key stat Tim Easterby (Charlie Tipple) has a 56 per cent strike-rate (5-9) with older handicappers here this season THERE are few sporting endeavours which allow a man to lay hands upon a prize dating back to 1599, but Alan Swinbank will today hope to do just that for the third time when his Mountain Cat springs from the gate in the Lloyd Motor Group Carlisle Bell.

While England's stars will be fighting for their World Cup lives - and their diminishing chance to lift a trophy dating from 1974 - in South Africa today, connections of the 17 runners in the Carlisle Bell could lift a prize that has its roots in the very earliest days of documented sport in Britain.

But for the trainers, jockeys and owners at Carlisle today, the pounds 30,000 prizemoney on offer in both the Carlisle Bell and accompanying feature event, the Fantails Restaurant Cumberland Plate, could prove greater enticement than prestige alone, however steeped in history a race may be.

Swinbank won the Carlisle Bell with Stevie Gee last year. His contender today is less patriotically named and his position in the handicap concerns Swinbank, who believes Mountain Cat is unfavourably weighted.

Luca Cumani challenges with Major Phil, who won a modest handicap at Doncaster this month and must shoulder a penalty and top weight as a result.

Fellow Newmarket-based trainer Ollie Pears runs the consistent five-yearold Sir George, who has finished outside the first two only once in his last eight starts.

In the Cumberland Plate, Barney Curley runs Agapanthus, a winner at Brighton in May who struck fear into the layers when it emerged he was part of a now famous gambling coup.

Curley is making his first trip to Carlisle in decades as a guest of Lester Piggott, who is set to open the course's new weighing room. Tom Kerr What they say Luca Cumani, trainer of Major Phil "He won his last race at Doncaster well and has got a penalty, which makes it a little bit harder, but it's a nice prize and well worth going for." Alan Bailey, trainer of Kidlat "He's very well. I think he needed that race [at Ripon] last week. He'll go well on the ground but I'm more hopeful than confident."

Linda Perratt, trainer of Silver Rime and Espero "Silver Rime is a lovely horse who ran a cracker here last time. He would not want it too firm but has a cracking draw and will hopefully be there or thereabouts. Espero is in cracking form and, again, wouldn't want it too firm, but he's drawn out in the car park [stall 6]."

Gerard Butler, trainer of Mount Hadley "This looks a good opportunity for him but he'll need a lot of luck in running." Alan Swinbank, trainer of Mountain Cat "We think he's very badly handicapped and just hope we get something. He's only just got in the race as the handicapper has dropped him a few pounds. I've won this race a couple of times before and it's a nice one to win."

Richard Fahey, trainer of Handsome Falcon "He's still a little bit high in the weights but there is nothing I can do about that. We'll just have to see how he goes in the race and whether he gets lucky."

Brian Ellison, trainer of Camerooney "He's done nothing but improve. He's got a horrendous draw [2], but hopefully he'll be able to overcome it."

3.35 Carlisle Fantails Restaurant Cumberland Plate 1m 31/2f Live on RUK Card page 65 Key stat Barry McHugh and Brian Ellison have a level-stakes profit of pounds 23.77 (11-34) when combining this season. They team up with Pendragon What they say Alan Swinbank, trainer of Sir Royal, Proud Times and Bivouac "Sir Royal won last time but has only won once and we think he is very badly handicapped.

Proud Times is a big, lovely, scopey horse but again has only won one race and is also very badly handicapped. Bivouac would be my main hope as he has done absolutely nothing wrong for me."

Richard Fahey, trainer of Boucheron and High Ambition "Boucheron had a little problem with her foot which took longer than we expected to sort out. High Ambition has been running well without winning." Tim Easterby, trainer of Rosbay "He's in good form - he ran a good race last time - and we thought we would try him back over this trip, which is a bit further. If things go right he would have a good chance."

Brian Ellison, trainer of Kingsdale Orion, Palomar, Daaweitza and Pendragon "Kingsdale Orion finished third in the race last year, always runs his heart out and is in good form. Palomar is working really well and I couldn't be happier with him. Daaweitza is as hard as nails and in good fettle. Pendragon has done nothing but improve. He's stepping up in trip and is in good form."

Barney Curley, trainer of Agapanthus "He's up in trip and up in the weights. I am looking forward to spending a day at Carlisle, I haven't been there for 30-odd years but I am going up as a guest of Lester Piggott, who is opening the new weighing room."

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Mountain Cat: Alan Swinbank is chasing a third Carlisle Bell
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 23, 2010
Words:902
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