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Quinn's hoping his Flame will burn again at Kempton

Countrywide Flame will try to reaffirm his prospects for championship honours in March when he takes on seven rivals in the williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on St Stephen's Day.

John Quinn's Triumph Hurdle scorer made a pleasing reappearance when winning the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

Quinn has opted for this race rather than come to Ireland for the Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown on December 29.

"There were various reasons we decided not to go to Ireland," said the Malton handler. "With everything we're better off not travelling. The weather is terrible and he'd have as much chance at Kempton as he would have in Ireland. The ground will be fine -- he goes on all types of ground."

Quinn had felt Countrywide Flame might not be as well suited to the track at Kempton as he would to Leopardstown, but that does not seem to be a major factor.

"He's won round Hamilton on the Flat, so we'll see," he said. "He's very well. It's a good field, but he's in fine fettle and I expect a good run out of him."


Cinders And Ashes was beaten 12 lengths by Countrywide Flame at Newcastle, but his trainer Donald McCain is not unduly concerned.

He said: "We had to run him (at Newcastle), the ground wasn't suitable, we got the run in, he got beat, big deal.

"He was beaten coming past me first time and if we'd waited for Cheltenham we would still have ended up with the same ground.

"We know where we want to be, his work is great and he's come on for the run."