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Sunday 17 December 2017

Lambe thrilled 'Choc' will bang Bumper Drum

Jimmy Lambe is delighted to have secured the services of Robert Thornton to ride Drumbaloo in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival.

The six-year-old is unbeaten in three starts in National Hunt Flat events and has taken the notable scalps of Western Leader and Tornedo Shay on his last two appearances.

Lambe is thrilled with his charge's current condition and feels it would be dangerous to leave him out of calculations at Prestbury Park.

"He won his point-to-point well and we then sent him over to Hereford for a bumper where he won in a common canter," said Lambe.

"Tony McCoy rode him that day and said he felt like a very good horse and could be competitive wherever we decided to send him.

"We brought him back to Ireland and he beat a very smart horse in Western Leader at Down Royal before winning a Grade Two at Navan, so his form is rock solid.

"Robbie McNamara rode him on his last two starts but unfortunately it looks like he'll be riding for Dermot Weld, so we've booked 'Choc' Thornton to ride.

"There is nobody better than him around Cheltenham and I'm delighted to have got him.

"The horse went to Navan a couple of weeks ago for a workout and he was scintillating.

"He normally isn't explosive in his work but he was very good that day and he also went to Leopardstown last week and went well again.

"He will probably have one more piece of work at half-speed on Saturday and he'll then head over to Cheltenham on Sunday week.

"He's travelled to England before so he should be fine in that respect and he shouldn't have any problem with the preliminaries.

"He'll definitely be a better horse on better ground and I think he has a good chance.

"If he was trained by Willie Mullins he'd probably be favourite so we're looking forward to it."

John Oxx has kept alive a small hope of repeating Sea The Stars' success in last year's Investec Derby with his colt Behtarini staying in contention for 2010.

There are still other opportunities to supplement an Epsom runner but at the first scratchings stage this week, 122 horses remain engaged.

The realistic Oxx knows it will be next to impossible to recreate the season enjoyed by the remarkable Sea The Stars and the maiden Behtarini clearly has improvements to make despite finishing second to smart types Chabal and Jan Vermeer during his three starts.

Oxx said: "We have given Behtarini an entry but it's slightly speculative at the moment.

"He has been beaten three times but he has run against some good horses.

"He would have to take a step forward in the springtime if he was to measure up to be a Derby contender but we have left him in.

"He is quite a nice horse but he would have to win his maiden and step up into a Derby trial before we would consider him for Epsom.

"The Derby is the race that everybody wants to win -- it is a great test of a horse.

"It was the race that made us feel that Sea The Stars was special."

Irish-trained horses have won five of the past 10 renewals of the Derby and Aidan O'Brien is responsible for 40 of the remaining entries, including the unbeaten winter favourite St Nicholas Abbey.

Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor and the Newmarket master Michael Stoute have 16 and three entries respectively.

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