Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rely on the Slob to Get Towork for Hopeful Henderson; Copsale Lad Can Continue His Transformation into Star Pupil by Claiming Cheltenham's Feature Chase Tomorrow

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rely on the Slob to Get Towork for Hopeful Henderson; Copsale Lad Can Continue His Transformation into Star Pupil by Claiming Cheltenham's Feature Chase Tomorrow

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK LUCK

THE association of Boylesports with this weekend's Cheltenham meeting marks a watershed for this fixture.

Predictably, a huge cash injection from the Irish bookmaker has been well received: there is now [pounds sterling]200,000 on offer, for example, to share out amongst the participants in tomorrow's feature hurdle race, in which dual Champion Hurdle hero Hardy Eustace takes on rising star Detroit City.

And there is another [pounds sterling]150,000 for an intriguing Boylesports.com Gold Cup.

Equally predictable has been the reaction to a little rebranding on the part of the new sponsor. First, this two-day surfeit of quality sport will hereafter been known as the 'International', in what is surely a nod to the hugely successful marketing of November's Paddy Power 'Open' meeting.

If this addition has been met with indifference, the deletion of the name of the legendary Bula from the title of the recognised trial for championship hurdlers has caused considerable disquiet amongst traditionalists.

Cheltenham's Commercial Manager, Peter McNeile, insisted that Bula "had had his day," serving only to fan the flames of dissent.

My contention would be that in memoriam the old boy did indeed have a pretty good innings, particularly when the late Robin Cook got just a single renewal - last year - of the showpiece steeplechase on the same card.

Still, nobody seems to mind about that - a nice indication of where racing-folk place equine and human endeavour among their priorities.

In fact, this prestigious and invariably competitive handicap chase has always been blighted by an identity crisis, to the extent that there are some racing seniors that still call it the Massey-Ferguson, despite there having been eight different names to the race since the tractor company supervised the first running in 1963.

What really perpetuates the reputation of a race, however, is the quality of its participants, and a list of previous winners serves to exhibit why it has retained its lustre.

The remarkable Flyingbolt, carrying the mighty burden of 12 stone 6 pounds in 1965, remains the race's best winner, followed closely by Pendil, who took the 1973 renewal just a fortnight before destroying his field in the King George VI chase at Kempton. …

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