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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Flame fired up for Fighting FifthHeadlines
Countrywide Flame

Countrywide Flame has been confirmed an intended runner in the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday.

Trainer John Quinn voiced concerns about the prospect of testing conditions earlier this week, but connections have now given the Triumph Hurdle winner the green light.

Sean Quinn, the North Yorkshire handler's son and assistant, tweeted: "We just spoke with @RobEstio (owner) and given Countrywide Flame's well being have decided to let him take his chance in the Fighting Fifth. I just hope Newcastle don't get any more rain to put the meeting in jeopardy. Looking forward to it now!"

Countrywide Flame made a winning return to the Flat at Chester in September and was only narrowly denied Cesarewitch glory at Newmarket last month.

Trainer Harry Fry will wait until Thursday morning before deciding whether to let Rock On Ruby take his chance in the two-mile Grade One.

The seven-year-old was prepared by Fry to win last season's Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, when officially trained by Paul Nicholls.

Fry has since started out on his own and had been looking forward to seeing his stable star start off the new campaign in the Fighting Fifth, but heavy conditions would not be ideal.

He said: "Declaration time is obviously 10am and we'll leave it as late as possible. He's ready to go, but unfortunately the weather has messed things up a bit. We'll see how things are looking first thing in the morning. If he doesn't run, he'll go for the International at Cheltenham in a fortnight's time."

Another horse for whom plans are uncertain is the Nicky Henderson-trained Darlan, owned by JP McManus.

McManus' racing manager Frank Berry said: "We haven't made a final decision yet. We want to run but we're waiting to see what way the ground is going to go."

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