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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Darlan claims Christmas crownHeadlines
Darlan is back with a bang in the Christmas Hurdle

Darlan (3-1) staked a massive claim for Champion Hurdle honours with an emphatic win in the williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.

The Nicky Henderson-trained five-year-old, owned by JP McManus, became a major contender for the Cheltenham Festival championship as he beat several other leading players in tremendous fashion.

There was all to play for with two flights to jump and it was Darlan who quickened impressively for Tony McCoy to stride away on the run to the last. He went on to win on his seasonal debut by four and a half lengths from Raya Star, with Dodging Bullets third and Countrywide Flame only fourth.

McCoy said: "The race was run at a slow pace and Nicky said to be aware and ride him handy. I was just keeping out of trouble and making sure he got a nice run. It's nice that he won and his jumping was pretty good on the whole.

"We will let Nicky decide (on plans) and speak to the boss (McManus). He will be pleased he won. He looks like a smart horse and I'm pleased we got him and no one else."

Henderson said: "We've always thought he had a lot of ability. That was a funny old race. I didn't expect Punjabi to make it (the running), but they might have been there all day if Barry (Geraghty) didn't take the lead.

"Although he (Darlan) was good at Aintree, you wouldn't think he'd be suited by a sprint, but he's beaten them fair and square. There's Grandouet and Binocular to fit in, but you'd think he'll have one more run before Cheltenham. I think he'll be a chaser one day, but that will come further down the line."

Alan King said of Raya Star: "I was delighted. I thought turning into the straight he'd be fifth or sixth, but he's outstayed them. We'll probably give him another run before the Champion Hurdle."

17 December 2014

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Mullins eyes twin assault on Lexus
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Annie Power on road to recovery
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Vautour ready for next jumps test
Mullins banks on Faugheen progress
Victory set to skip Ladbroke
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Field sizes under BHA microscope
Quinn outlines Aurore options
Legal laying down the law at Ludlow
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King heartened by Walkon return
Cross set Christmas conundrum

16 December 2014

Pipe bowled over by Palace
Cole to duck Leopardstown mission
Pipe bowled over by Palace
Arbuthnot has Starluck options
Geraghty taken with weekend Heroes
Moore the merrier at Plumpton
Estrella back with a bang
Options fluid for Hargam
Lough set for Lexus workout
Sceaux in Haydock frame
Victoire at Ladbroke summit
Five left in Long Walk

15 December 2014

Hannon has trio lined up for Dubai
Sherwood sweats on Power Welsh bid
Puffin angling for Ascot return
Kauto takes the plunge at Olympia
River looks swell for Theatre
Ginge team ponder Plate target
View sights fixed on Kempton prize
Sole to stick to trusted routine
Spencer in retirement U-turn
Elliott keen to play waiting game
Pineau pulled up at Carlisle
Heroes steps up in thriller
Estrella returns at Wolves
New camp delay Christmas call
Not a bother on Berlais
Farraaj sixth in Hong Kong Cup
Flintshire comes good in Vase

14 December 2014

Heroes steps up in thriller
Willing Able streaks to Mile glory
National hero on duty at Carlisle
Irish duo grounded by Aero
Irish duo grounded by Aero
Southwell cancels inspection
No issues at Carlisle
Ruby a Cheltenham winner again
December joy for cool Virak
Special One lands International
Peace dazzles at Doncaster
Frankie claims Caspian Gold
Not much fizz from Champagne
Henderson concerns for Simon
Sprinter camp lean towards Ascot
No Trial and error for Hargam

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