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02/07/02 Chibuli's Grand Warning for National
Talented New Zealand jumper Chibuli has added another dimension to this Saturday's Grand National Steeplechase at Flemington with a dashing win the Crisp Steeple at the same track last Saturday.

A last start winner in New Zealand of the Great Northern Hurdle over 4190 metres at Ellerslie, the nine-year-old led from start to finish in Flemington's National lead up on the weekend.

With Jonathan Riddell in the saddle the son of Royal Pinnacle held out all of the challenges to score a comprehensive and record breaking win.

Trained at Hastings by Paul Nelson, Chibuli has having only his tenth start over jumps and his fourth from as many outings this preparation.

Chibuli, who was nominated for a Melbourne Cup as a five-year-old, was an accomplished flat performer before switching to the obstacles.

"He won five races straight back home when he was younger," Paul Nelson said. "At that stage we even nominated him for the Melbourne Cup."

During the earlier part of his career Chibuli excelled on the flat across the Tasman. He was a listed winner at Auckland's Ellerslie track and was also a stakes placed performer as well. But it's now his abilities as a jumper that once again has his name in lights.

Following his three quarter length win there were some anxious moments for connections when the connections of the runner-up Sir Ritchie fired in a protest.

After a relatively short hearing the objection by Willy Harnett, the rider of Sir Ritchie, stewards dismissed the protest and the placings stood.

Nelson is hoping Chibuli continues to settle into Melbourne and he races even more attractively on Saturday in the National.

"He doesn't normally race as fierce as he did today," Nelson said. "In New Zealand he normally races up there handy but not necessarily in front."

"I'm pretty confident he will be able to settle in a bit more and race not so keen on Saturday which would be great," he added.

Chibuli is one of twelve entries for Saturday's Cleanevent Grand National Steeplechase (4700m). He has 65 kilograms, four and a half kilos less than the top weight Leading Bounty, who's attempting a third win in the race.

The other entries are Hibernian Prince  and Sir Ritchie (63.5), Crafty Dancer (63), Corker's Boy (62.5), Ballata (62) and Built Him, Queenlike, Bone Jolter, Sampan Man and Kevie's Luck (61).

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