12/10/2001 12:00AM

Tres Touche going for jump bonus


Tres Touche, one of America's leading young jumpers, will carry the Stars and Stripes at England's famous Cheltenham Racecourse Saturday in the Sport of Kings Challenge Hurdle.

Victory in the 2 5/8-mile event for novice hurdlers would mean a $100,000 bonus for Malcolm Commer, owner of the 4-year-old gelding, as Tres Touche has already won two American races in the Sport of Kings series.

Victorious in the Grade 3 Sport of Kings Hurdle at Atlanta in April and in another Sport of Kings event at Saratoga in August, Tres Touche added the Grade 2 Foxbrook Novice Hurdle to his collection two starts back at Far Hills.

Trainer Ricky Hendricks will give regular rider David Bentley a leg up at Cheltenham, where Tres Touche has been based since arriving in England on Dec. 5 with assistant trainer Feneka Worley.

Both Bentley and Worley are natives of England, so the experience of Cheltenham's daunting hills will not be entirely new to the Tres Touche team, which had the American invader practicing over English-style hurdles before his departure.

American horses have a good record in this race. Lonesome Glory won it for trainer Bruce Miller in 1992, while Serenity Prayer finished third for Miller in 1996.