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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 March, 2004, 13:45 GMT
Thursday's Cheltenham diary
By Sophie Brown
BBC Sport at Cheltenham

Fundamentalist, ridden by Carl Llewellyn
Fundamentalist heads for victory in the Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle
Best Mate's owner is nicknamed "Lucky Jim" Lewis because of his phenomenal success with a handful of horses.

But even he had to wait longer for his success than the owners of Fundamentalist, who won the Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle on Wednesday.

Just eight weeks ago, Fizz Griffin and Killy Pennell went for a night out with their husbands at a pub owned by trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.

The evening went so well that the two women went home as first-time owners - and their investment has been swiftly and handsomely rewarded.


Talking of pubs, one Midlands landlord is such a Cheltenham enthusiast that he has decked his establishment out to look like a racecourse to raise money for charity during Festival week.

Paul Hunt, who runs the Highwood pub in Solihull, put turf along the bar and brought in bales of hay and a bookies' board.

As a finishing touch, he even constructed a stable complete with fake horse's head while he spends the day dressed as a jockey.


Ruby Walsh heads for the line on Azertyuiop
Azertyuiop was a comfortable winner in the Queen Mother Champion Chase
Azertyuiop's victory in Wednesday's Queen Mother Champion Chase gave headline writers everywhere a bit of headache.

Not only is there no obvious pun to be found but the name is long and can prove tricky to spell - unless you are French.

The horse gets its name from the top line of a French keyboard, so for Gallic journalists, it is just a case of running your finger from left to right.

Had the horse been bred in England, perhaps it would have been named Qwertyuiop.


The gulf between Flat and National Hunt is never more apparent than when comparing the two major meetings of both - Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham Festival.

On Thursday, Best Mate's trainer Henrietta Knight wore her "lucky" blue suit for her horse's assault on history - she said that she hadn't worn it since last March's Festival.

Such a revelation would have some Ascot aficionados reeling on their Jimmy Choos in horror - how simply dreadful to be seen in an outfit that is literally so last year!


One area where Cheltenham is copying Ascot is in tagging on an extra day to next year's meeting.

And there was good news for officials at the home of National Hunt as they prepare for the 2005 four-day Cheltenham.

Some in racing fear it may lead to Festival fatigue but attendance figures so far this year have been up by more than 7,000.


SEE ALSO
Tuesday's Cheltenham diary
16 Mar 04  |  Horse Racing



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