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Screaming Colours team aim for Auteuil glory after entry glitch

The team surrounding Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris hopeful Screaming Colours were full of praise for quick-thinking officials after a glitch in the entries process had threatened to derail their bid even before the tapes go up.

When the penultimate forfeit stage passed on Wednesday morning the name of the Midlands Grand National winner did not appear among the 15 remaining entries for the €860,000 crown jewel of French jump racing. 

Within a couple of hours 15 had become 16 and France Galop released a statement confirming that trainer Bill Durkan had received "misleading information" about the entry procedure and consequently, in a rare application of the rules, Screaming Colours would be reinstated as part of the second supplementary stage. 

Durkan's son and assistant Neil has travelled over with the 11-year-old and explained: "There was a glitch in my account and France Galop sorted it out. I don’t know what the technical solution was but France Galop was on top of it very quickly.

"They realised it hadn't gone through and they got into my account and sorted everything out for me."

None of which has affected the horse himself, who has settled in well at Erwan Grall's yard in Maisons-Laffitte.

"We got here late Monday morning and the horse has settled in, he’s in good fettle," said Durkan. "We said we’d get here a couple of days earlier with the temperatures being quite warm, to give him time to adjust."

This year's Grand Steeple largely puts the accent on rising stars in terms of the home defence, with no Grade 1 winner in the line-up.

But the presence of dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo at the head of a three-strong team for Willie Mullins ensures Durkan or jockey Conor Orr won't be taking anything for granted as Screaming Colours looks to step up from winning the Midlands National and then running fourth in the Irish Grand National. 

"He came out of Fairyhouse well," said Durkan. "He travelled through that race very sweetly again and was probably a little unlucky at the last couple of jumps but that's racing. 

"He's in good form and there's no reason why we wouldn't consider running him. We walked the track yesterday and they've a great watering system. 

"Running a horse in France wouldn't have crossed our minds but we looked into it a bit more and saw how well they maintain the racecourse and keep it safe for jumping."

Durkan added: "We’ve had an opportunity to school him. He's a horse that just takes to what's in front of him.

"We're looking forward to it and looking through the field, it's going to be a challenge but then what race isn't at Grade 1 level."

 

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