Friday 24 March 2017

Fleming hopes Starluck can deliver perfect Christmas gift at Kempton

Thomas Kelly

CLASSY grey Starluck will attempt to go one better than last year in the William Hill Christmas Hurdle, following his encouraging seasonal debut at Newbury.

Trainer Alan Fleming was delighted with his stable star's effort in finishing an admirable second to Peddlers Cross in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle on Saturday.

Now the former Curragh-based trainer will prepare the five-year-old for Kempton on St Stephen's Day in a bid to improve on his effort in 2009, when he failed by just a short head to peg back Noel Meade's Go Native.

"He's absolutely flying. It was a great run, we were very happy and obviously it was a serious horse that beat him," said Fleming. "We'll head to Kempton now at Christmas with him. The track should suit him better, so we would like to think he'd improve."

Champion Court is poised for a return to Cheltenham as the exciting novice bids for another Grade Two success in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle on December 11.

The five-year-old made an impressive debut over hurdles when staying on strongly to beat Sybarite by seven lengths at Prestbury Park on November 14.

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Trainer Martin Keighley said: "We will give Champion Court an entry in the Albert Bartlett on December 11 and I'm hoping that we can go back to Cheltenham with him, weather permitting.

"I felt that it was throwing him in at the deep end to start him off in a Grade Two at Cheltenham, but the owner was keen to go. Hopefully, there is lots more to come."

Meanwhile, record-breaking champion jockey Tony McCoy has made the final cut for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2010. McCoy is on a shortlist of 10 for the coveted award, which will be announced on December 19.

The County Antrim native shot to the head of the betting for the accolade after winning the Aintree Grand National at the 15th attempt aboard the JP McManus-owned Don't Push It this year.

McCoy has been crowned champion jumps jockey for the past 15 seasons and the former Jim Bolger apprentice became the first jumps jockey to ride more than 3,000 winners in Britain and Ireland.

The 36-year-old has won all the top races during his career, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Irish Grand National, Queen Mother Champion Chase and King George VI Chase.

Ryder Cup heroes Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood also feature in the nominations, along with boxer David Haye, cyclist Mark Cavendish and darts legend Phil Taylor.

Irish Independent

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