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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Bowler in old guard's Betfair teamHeadlines
Swing Bowler

David Johnson admits the unbeaten Swing Bowler faces by far the most difficult test of her career in Saturday's Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.

The outstandingly bred Galileo mare is close to the owner's heart as her dam is Lady Cricket, a top-class hurdler and chaser in his famous blue and green colours.

Now six and campaigned sparingly and cautiously by trainer David Pipe, Swing Bowler took novice events last season at Ludlow and Newton Abbot and only reappeared on New Year's Day at Musselburgh, winning a valuable handicap hurdle in impressive style.

Johnson said: "She has done nothing but surprise us, really, as she has never been exciting in her work at home. However, not many mares win five times from five races and her most recent run in Scotland was her best."

It will be like old times at the weekend, with Johnson's old ally Timmy Murphy sweating down for a light weight in a big handicap for the team.

"Timmy will ride her," the owner confirmed. "It's a huge step up in a race that would not look out of place at Cheltenham. I think she has it all to do, to be honest, but 10st 1lb is a nice weight and the ground should not be a concern."

Evan Williams has warned leading contender Court Minstrel is far from certain to take his chance.

The six-year-old ran out an impressive winner on his debut over obstacles at Cheltenham in October and emerged with huge credit when third behind top novice Dodging Bullets at the same track a month later, having suffered trouble in running.

He was slightly disappointing when only fourth in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown last time and having struggled to cope in the mud on that occasion, Williams insists his charge will only line up this weekend if conditions are right.

He said: "We are keeping an eye on it, but he definitely won't run if the ground is very soft. It will have to dry out considerably. He's in grand form at home and I would prefer to run him if I can because the prize-money is so good, but the one thing we learned at Sandown is that he can't handle very soft ground."

18 January 2017

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Really Special bids to put Classic case at Meydan
First Lieutenant just one of the stars in red-hot hunter chase at Thurles
Joy for owner Bill Davies as he bags first winner - after 25 years of trying
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Warren Greatrex warns The Nipper not certain to make Cheltenham
Boost for courses as racing back to second-best attended sport
Willie Mullins hands Black Hercules Thurles redemption mission
Evan Williams set to put Clyne on trial at Haydock
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Annie Power and Faugheen star in 28 for Champion Hurdle
Newbury receives go-ahead at third attempt
Newbury 'very hopeful' as third inspection announced
Kerry Lee ducks Thurles mission with Ascot-bound Kylemore Lough
Newbury announces second course inspection
Roger Charlton keeps the faith with Frankel filly Fair Eva
Newbury calls inspection after overnight temperatures drop below freezing
Second Thought continues on the up at Kempton
Classy Starchitect up and running over fences at Ayr
Politologue stars in novice entry at Haydock
Contrasting views on Kempton closure from prominent Newmarket figures
Cyrus Darius primed for eagerly-awaited weekend return at Haydock
Heartbreak City on course for big handicap date at Leopardstown
Decorated Knight delights Roger Charlton in Kempton spin
Sire De Grugy skips Clarence House outing at Ascot
Yanworth to tackle Contenders heat with Cheltenham in his sights

17 January 2017

Sir Anthony McCoy weighing in heavier since retirement due to chocolate cravings
Australian jockey Josh Cartwright set to learn fate after riding drama
Richard Fahey anticipating northern support for returning Paul Hanagan
Michael Buckley enthused by Brain Power's Ascot performance
Charlemar set to step up in trip following Tolworth disappointment
Petit Mouchoir to face Champion test at Leopardstown
Un De Sceaux team pinpoint Ascot nous as key strength in Clarence House Chase
Bastien blazes a trail to pocket Plumpton prize for Alan King
Fit-again Noel Fehily back in action at Exeter
Godolphin dominate fast-track qualifier as Antiquarium roars at Wolverhampton
Harry Fry guarded against Cleeve complacency for Unowhatimeanharry
Colin Tizzard set to unleash Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Alary at Haydock
Harry Fry plans to chart direct Cheltenham Festival route with American
Gordon Elliott looking to Irish Gold Cup with Empire Of Dirt
Willie Mullins hoping Faugheen will make Irish Champion return

16 January 2017

Jan Faltejsek ends British drought as Fairlee Grey strikes at Ayr
Tributes paid after death of Fakenham maestro Cool Roxy
No plans for Dougie Gittens to appeal against Kelso ban
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Vezelay on course for Cheltenham Trial
Dunphy and Logan banned for two years following Like A Diamond case
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Gary Moore lining up Banks raid with Benatar
Amateur rider Dougie Gittins hit with 10-day ban at Kelso
Ballyoisin makes amends for recent fall
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has his say on Kempton closure plans
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Barra banks maiden win at Fairyhouse
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Jonjo O'Neill on Leopardstown Gold trail with Minella Rocco
Neil Mulholland considers Cleeve Hurdle for Grand National hope The Young Master
Seamus Mullins could go Flat out with Fergall

15 January 2017

My Manekineko set to take Leopardstown plunge
Ball D'Arc proves too good in Dan Moore Memorial at Fairyhouse
John Francome criticises Jockey Club proposals to close Kempton
'Sore' Noel Fehily ruled out of Fairyhouse action
Kelso receives go-ahead
Noel Fehily 'sore' but clear of injury after Warwick spill
One For Arthur powers to Classic Chase glory at Warwick
Willoughby Court impresses for Grade Two honours at Warwick
Tobefair continues winning spree at Warwick
Modus makes no mistake in Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton
American stars in Hampton Novices' Chase at Warwick
Any Second Now floors hotpot Crack Mome at Punchestown
Frost and snow puts paid to Fakenham Sunday card
Fine Rightly looking to show his class at Kelso
Murphy sets sights on Moore glory with Pairofbrowneyes

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