Sussex favourite bids for Cheltenham Festival glory

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Top Sussex steeplechaser Fruity O’Rooney is on target to run at the Cheltenham Festival for the second year in succession.

His owners Heart of the South Racing hope he can improve on last year’s second place in the JLT Specialty Chase on Tuesday (2.40pm).

Fruity O’Rooney is trained by in-form Horsham trainer Gary Moore, the yard already enjoying 22 winners in 2013 including landing Haydock’s Grand National Trial with his horse Well Refreshed.

Fruity O’Rooney is owned by a 20 strong syndicate organized by Heart of the South Racing. He has been a huge success story for the organisation, having won just under £100,000 in career prize money so far. He is the winner of six races and has contested some of the best-known handicap chases including the Hennessy Gold Cup and the Scottish Grand National.

Fruity O’Rooney has been in great form so far this season, running very well in defeat against Gold Cup contender Bobs Worth and most recently finishing a strong second behind Katenko at Cheltenham in January. He goes into the JLT with a rating of

139, 1lb lower than 2012, and was in “the form of his life” during a racecourse gallop at Lingfield Park a fortnight ago.

Trainer Gary Moore says: “I could not be more pleased with him going into the race, and he should never be ruled out of finishing in the frame. Some rain would be helpful, but he has run well at the track on all sorts ground previously.”

It promises to be a busy festival for Moore with four other runners intending to line up: Vino Griego, Knight of Pleasure, Ubak & Chris Pea Green.

The Cheltenham Festival is the most prestigious and the richest race meeting in the jump racing calendar. It takes place over four days from Tuesday. The highlight on Day One is the Champion Hurdle. The JLT Specialty Chase is a handicap chase run over three miles and half a furlong.

Fruity O’Rooney’s rivals are set to include last year’s victor Alfie Sherrin, recent Racing Plus Chase winner Opening Batsman and current favourite Our Mick who was an unlucky faller in Fruity O’Rooney’s last race.

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