Fruity camp sweating on Festival bid

Fruity O'Rooney
Fruity O'Rooney
Markov and jockey Tom Bellamyon their way to victory. Picture: Fontwell Park

Honeyball hat-trick lights up Fontwell

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Fruity O’Rooney’s team are hoping it will be ‘third time lucky’ at the Cheltenham Festival next week.

However, the first obstacle the 11-year-old chaser must clear will be the final declaration stage on Monday morning.

West Sussex trainer Gary Moore has entered the son of Kahyasi in the Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase on Tuesday (2.40pm).

A total of 50 horses, including Moore’s other contender Vino Griego, were remaining in the Grade 3 race after yesterday’s six-day confirmations. That figure must be whittled down to a field of 24 ahead of the extended three-mile contest.

Vino Griego has the fourth-highest rating of all the entries – a mark of 149.

That will see him comfortably make the cut, should Moore choose to grant him his chance.

Fruity O’Rooney, however, is only rated 132.

And that means he needs a considerable number of hopefuls to be withdrawn prior to Monday’s 10am deadline.

Should he make the cut, his West Sussex-based Heart of the South Racing (HOTSR) owners are confident he will put up a good display.

Their talent, who is a four-time Fontwell winner, was second to Alfie Sherrin in the same race in 2012 – off a mark of 140.

And last term he returned to place fifth off 139.

Now rated 7lb lower after a mixed season, connections are just hoping he gets a third crack at Festival glory.

A HOTSR spokesman said: ‘Fruity has been dropped to 132, which will be a great weight to go to Cheltenham with – if we get in.

‘Conditions on the day should be soft and we know he loves the track.

‘Let’s just keep everything crossed it is third time lucky!’

Nick Gifford has entered 126-rated Tullamore Dew.

Meanwhile, his stable-mate Christopher Wren could go in the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase – which is also on day one of the four-day meeting.