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Four Irish in French x-country race

Article Date: 15-May-2012

Four Irish-trained horses will run in a valuable cross-country race in France on Thursday (May 17th).

They are Uncle Junior, A New Story, Saddlers Storm and Another Jewel.

The Prix Anjou-Loire Challenge (due off at 6.45pm local time) takes place at Lion-d’Angers and is described as the longest cross country race in the world, run over four miles, four and a half furlongs and worth €112,000.

It is the fourth contest in the Crystal Cup European Cross Country Challenge for 2012.

Winner of the La Touche Cup at the Punchestown Festival in April, the Willie Mullins-trained Uncle Junior is the mount of Emmet Mullins. The third that day, Saddlers Storm from Tony Martin’s yard, received 14lb and was beaten just over four lengths, but is taking on the winner again, this time off level weights, with Paul Carberry in the saddle again.  

Ireland was successful in this race in 2010, thanks to Another Jewel, trained by Denis Murphy, and the 10-year-old, only seventh last year, lines up for a third time. Davy Russell, recently crowned champion jump jockey in Ireland, takes over the ride.

The fourth Irish runner is the 14-year-old A New Story, trained by Michael Hourigan and the mount of Adrian Heskin. This horse finished second in the Cheltenham cross-country race in March.

Also lining up are the first four in the second leg of the Crystal Cup series at Fontainebleau, France, over three miles and six furlongs on April 4. Maljimar, trained by Nick Williams in Devon and ridden by James Reveley, beat Quezac De La Roche (Francois Cottin) by a length and a half, with Quetzal Bay (Christian Le Galliard) and L’Aubergiste (Jean Luc Guillochon) third and fourth respectively. Reveley partners Maljimar again.

The other British runner is Wedger Pardy (Kim Bailey) with leading amateur Oliver Greenall taking the ride

A field of 17 is due to line up in the Prix Anjou-Loire Challenge, with last year’s winner Chriseti (Etienne Leenders) going for back-to-back victories.

The Crystal Cup was a new initiative developed in 2010 to bring together the finest international horses and riders to reward the most successful stable in cross country steeple chasing.  The 10-race series, with nearly €700,000 in prize money, is hosted by many of Europe’s premier racecourses, over unique combinations of hedges, banks, ditches and timber.  This year’s Challenge began in Pau in South West France in February and the final race is at Cheltenham in December. The series consists of four further races in France and visits to Ireland, Belgium, Italy and to the Czech Republic for the Velka Pardubika.

Nick Williams is currently the leading trainer of the series following a win with Maljimar at Fontainebleau and fifth at Punchestown with Shalimar Fromentro. Nick’s wife and assistant trainer Jane is currently the leading owner.

Points are awarded to the first six horses to finish in each of the 10 races, with bonus points awarded to horses that have travelled from abroad to take part. To be eligible to win the series, competitors must participate in a minimum of three Crystal Cup races during the year, including at least two outside their country of training.

The Crystal Cup series culminates at Cheltenham Racecourse where the leading trainer and owner of the series will be awarded the Crystal Cup and share €35,000 in prize money.


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