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The Listener heads for a second Lexus

The Listener will head for Leopardstown's Lexus Chase rather than run in tomorrow’s rearranged John Durkan Memorial Chase at Fairyhouse.

Trainer Nick Mitchell had been aiming for the latter race with his stable star, a race he won in 2007.

But with the John Durkan being abandoned and rearranged a number of times, Mitchell has decided against sending him to Ireland just yet and he will now wait for Leopardstown on December 28.

“We're putting a line through the John Durkan as it's been too much of a mix-up for us,” said Mitchell.

“The horse is still at home and has never got on a boat, so we've decided to go straight for the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.

“It would have been nice to have run in the John Durkan as he's in such good form, but after his injury we didn't want to take him over to Ireland and then find out it was off again.

“It's unfortunate but those are the cards we've been dealt and the Lexus is only a fortnight away, so we'll keep our powder dry and go for that.”

Meanwhile, ante-post favourite Aegean Dawn is among 34 five-day entries for the Ladbroke at Ascot on Saturday.

The five-year-old has looked something special so far and is unbeaten in four starts.

His trainer Nicky Henderson has a second string to his bow in Oscar Whiskey in what is likely to be a maximum 21-strong field for this valuable handicap hurdle over two miles.

Mille Chief, who was a creditable runner-up to Aegean Dawn over this course and distance last month, is expected to be one of two runners from the Alan King stable.

The top weight is shared by three horses — last season's totesport Trophy victor Get Me Out Of Here from Jonjo O'Neill's yard, the Philip Hobbs-trained Nearby and Luska Lad, trained in Ireland by John Hanlon.

At the same meeting, Big Buck's faces a maximum of nine rivals when he bids to win the BGC Long Walk Hurdle for the second year running.

The undisputed staying champion took the race last December when it was switched to Newbury after Ascot was lost to the snow.

The Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old is undefeated in nine starts over the smaller obstacles since unseating his rider in the Hennessy Gold Cup in November 2008.

The Ditcheat handler and owner Andy Stewart have also left in Celestial Halo. He was third to Karabak in the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham at the weekend.

Big Buck's beat Duc De Regniere on his reappearance in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last month.

Nicky Henderson's charge could reoppose.

The Seven Barrows trainer has another possible runner in Carole's Legacy.

Kayf Aramis and Restless Harry still hold entries as does Lough Derg while the sole Irish hopeful is the Tom Mullins-trained Oscar Dan Dan.

Belfast Telegraph

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