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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Cinders comes out fightingHeadlines
Cinders And Ashes

Trainer Donald McCain is keeping his fingers crossed Newcastle are fit to race as he prepares to unleash Cinders And Ashes in the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle on Saturday.

McCain has had the two-mile Grade One in his sights as a starting point for his Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner for some time and while he would have preferred better ground, the Cholmondeley handler is eager to get his charge back in action.

"He's ready for the run, but obviously we're just hoping the meeting passes the inspection," he said.

"The ground is not ideal for him but he's ready for the run and he will come on a touch for it. Some of the others have had a run and he obviously won't be 110% for his first run of the year but he had a good gallop last week and we're pleased with him."

Countrywide Flame is officially the highest-rated horse in the field and enjoyed an excellent prep run when only beaten half a length by Aaim To Prosper in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket last month.

He said: "We were very happy with his Newmarket run. He's in good form, but we could have done without all the rain we've had. He's a very good horse - he doesn't know how to run a bad race. He's run on heavy at Chepstow and softer ground at Leopardstown so hopefully he will handle it."

Trifolium finished third behind Cinders And Ashes at Cheltenham before going on to claim second in another Grade One at Punchestown.

The five-year-old disappointed when only second on his return at that track but trainer Charles Byrnes expects an improved effort this time, although the easy ground will be far from ideal.

"He was very distressed after the race in Punchestown and hopefully the minor wind operation he's had since will have made a bit of a difference to him," he said.

"He seems in good form at home. Heavy ground is not ideal for him, but he has won in it before. Hopefully he'll be all right. We don't have much to find on Cheltenham form."

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