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Trabolgan is class.

Byline: By William Hayler

Few trainers have as formidable a record at the Cheltenham Festival as Nicky Henderson and the performance of Trabolgan at Newbury yesterday left the Lambourn trainer dreaming of further glory at Prestbury Park in March.

Having finished second in last year's Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, the six-year-old had already proved himself to be a horse of considerable talent with a comfortable success over hurdles at Ascot last month.

His effort in winning the Fabulous Fakes Novices' Hurdle did little to dispel that impression and the Seven Barrows handler was delighted.

"He is a lovely horse, a gorgeous horse and is still only a baby," said Henderson. "He's only had one real race and that was when he was second at Cheltenham.

"I am really pleased, which I wasn't when he won at Ascot last time because he didn't do it like I thought he would.

"But we freshened him up afterwards and he seemed much more like himself again.

"Mick Fitzgerald said that he rode like a very good horse and we will have to start thinking about going back to Cheltenham again, probably for the Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle.

"I think and hope that he is class."

Another trainer looking to the future is Jim Old, who had memories of his 1996 Champion Hurdle hero Collier Bay evoked when his half-brother Young Collier took the opener.

He looked a decent prospect when outstaying his rivals in division one of the Fabulous Fakes Novices' Hurdle.

Young Collier, trained on the Flat by Sir Mark Prescott, may lack the pace of his illustrious relative but he nevertheless showed a willing attitude to come home six-lengths clear of runner-up Alfa Sunrise.

Old said: "That was great-- just like the old days. Collier Bay was all power but this fellow just lollops along. He is going to make a really nice chaser.

"He is still weak and we won't do much with him this season."

Double Honour looked a reluctant hero on his way to making all in the Reading Evening Post Novices' Chase.

The former classy Flat performer needed some hefty reminders from Richard Johnson to keep his mind on the job in the early stages.

It definitely appeared as if a repeat of his antics at Hereford last time out, where he dropped himself right out at halfway before staying on again close home, might be on the cards.

But Johnson kept asking for more and as the race progressed, the 6-4 favourite's jumping appeared to improve and he pulled away in the home straight to defeat First Flight by 12 lengths.

"He is a talented horse and he has won in bottomless ground and hard ground so the conditions don't seem to bother him," said trainer Philip Hobbs.

"He doesn't travel well but keeps finding and we'll look for another long-distance novice chase for him now.

"I think he appreciated being able to dominate today but, being realistic, it wasn't a great race for Newbury."

Johnson completed a 14-1 double when Coursing Run kept favourite-backers happy at the rewarding odds of 5-1 in the Systems By Design Handicap Chase.

His task was made easier when nearest pursuer Kildorragh tried to duck out and ended up refusing at the final fence.

But ultimately the winner just had too much stamina for his rivals in the testing conditions.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 15, 2004
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