Russell gets 'king' call-up
DAVY Russell will ride Ferdy Murphy's Kalahari King in today's Boylesports.com Champion Chase after Graham Lee was hurt in a fall at Hexham yesterday.
The Galway native was aboard Nevsky Bridge challenging for the Newgate Mares' Handicap Hurdle when they came down at the last.
His agent Richard Hale said last night: "He can't ride as he got a red entry in his medical book. He wasn't concussed but got a knock on the head and was signed off by the doctor."
Kalahari King faces 10 rivals in the Grade One highlight, and will now be ridden by Russell.
Alan King will attempt to win the ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle for a second time on Thursday when he saddles Karabak and Bensalem in the Punchestown showpiece.
The Barbury Castle trainer sent out Blazing Bailey to take the prize two years ago. However, both his runners are on retrieval missions after poor runs at the Cheltenham festival. Karabak was fourth to Big Buck's in the World Hurdle, while Bensalem fell in the William Hill Trophy.
Monkerhostin is among 38 confirmations for Saturday's Sandown feature. The veteran is one of five possibles from Philip Hobbs' stable that also includes 2006 winner Lacdoudal, Fairoak Lad, Templer and Boychuk.
There were no surprise withdrawals from those at the top of the ante-post market, including The Package. David Pipe's promising chaser unseated his rider in the Grand National. Pipe also has Tamarinbleu and Piraya in the staying handicap chase.
Paul Nicholls has a strong team consisting of The Tother One, My Will, Nozic, Massasoit, Just Amazing and Hoo La Baloo, third two years ago. Other possibles include Eric's Charm from Oliver Sherwood's stable, Jonjo O'Neill's Can't Buy Time, the Emma Lavelle-trained Kilcrea Castle and Hello Bud and Irish Raptor from the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard.
Sandown will continue to water its jumps track this week as ground conditions yesterday were described as "good, good to firm in places on the back straight".