THE first two horses in this year's Tote Chester Cup are in the news for very different reasons.
The winner is off to Australia; the runner-up to the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival.
Six-year-old Hugs Dancer had what turned out to be his final outing for trainer James Given in the Melbourne Cup last month. He had been bought by owners in the southern hemisphere and will be given a chance to improve on ninth place in Australia's big race next November.
Given, who admitted everyone in his yard was disappointed that their most high-profile horse was leaving, said it reflected the higher prize-money available in Australia.
The unlucky second-placed horse to Hugs Dancer at The Roodee last May has started his career over hurdles in most promising fashion.
Big Moment started out at Plump-ton and has since followed up at Fontwell Park, the jumps track nearest to trainer Linda Perratt's West Sussex base.
The classy recruit from flat racing will now return to Fontwell for that course's richest ever race in February before going on to the Cheltenham Festival for the Royal & Sun Alliance Novices' Hurdle.
Following today's final fixture of 2003 at Bangor-on-Dee, the next meeting is on February 13. Details are available on 01978 780323. Chester information is detailed on www.chester-races.co.uk