Blaze to burn off crowd in Cup

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The Independent Online
Just 12 months ago, it was a fact every bit as solidly founded as the viaduct at the far end of the course that Chester Cup day was the most popular at the track all year. That was before 35,000 people crammed inside its tight boundary in last year's most spectacular demonstration of the racegoing public's appetite for Sunday racing.

The memory of the Chester infield with not a square inch unoccupied by punters or vehicles resurfaced yesterday, but only in reaction to the latest evidence that while people are happy to visit a racecourse on Sunday, even those who are deathly pale after spending the other six days of the week in the artificial light of a betting shop would rather spend the seventh elsewhere. Following the meetings at Newmarket and Salisbury three days ago - which were both well attended considering the sporting alternatives on offer - the major firms reported that their outlets were all but punter- less. Whether they will contine to open some - or indeed any - shops on future Sundays must now be in doubt.

The gate will fall a little short of 35,000 at Chester today, but given that Cup day is an impossible crush anyway, few racegoers will complain. The stalls will be full too for the main event, which has attracted a maximum field of 18, and the fight for service at the bar will be as nothing to the scrum around the first few bends.

Today's 18-furlong trip offers many runners their only chance of a big pay-day, so plenty have been prepared with this race in mind. Trainglot, a Cesarewitch winner, has not raced on the level this year, but was a winner at the Cheltenham Festival and money with access to Jimmy FitzGerald's yard has promoted him to the top of the market.

His most recent Flat form - what there is of it - is hardly encouraging and since the next two in the market, Merit and Fujiyama Crest, are there on potential rather than achievement, the value lies elsewhere. BLAZE AWAY (nap 3.40) was beaten less than five lengths in last year's Cesarewitch off a mark 1lb higher than today's, goes well on a sound surface and demonstrated his well-being over hurdles at Ascot eight days ago. The 9-1 available this morning must be taken, while Smilin N Wishin (next best 3.10) and Angaar (4.10) also deserve support.