Bookies in dread of Prescott's double-act

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The Independent Online

Sir Mark Prescott likes to see a bit of blood on the ground and insists there is some grand art in the pursuits of coursing and bullfighting. Being nasty to animals, he may understand one day, is no way to prove your superiority over them. Yet all is not lost with Sir Mark. He also likes to see butchered the beast least deserving of our sympathy in the animal kingdom, the thing below the wasp, rat and (though close to) the leech.

The Newmarket trainer's wounding rushes at the bookmakers are becoming feats of great modern derring-do. The latest amphitheatre for a Prescott crack is Newmarket and an attempt at an autumn double last achieved 76 years ago by Sam Darling. The Heath House trainer is 20-1 with the Tote to break the barren sequence and has an obvious, if not certain, chance as he saddles the potential favourites in both events. Alphaeus heads the market for Saturday's Cambridgeshire Handicap, while Alleluia has even better credentials should she be allowed to compete in the Cesarewitch two weeks later.

Alleluia is officially 19lb well in for the scamper across the counties, though she does have an alternative engagement in the Jockey Club Cup on the same day at Headquarters. Prescott, who likes to solve the handicap puzzles, seems to be eventually getting his way. "I think she's more likely to run in the Cesarewitch," he said yesterday. "I'll let the owners decide, though maybe I'll get a casting vote if I'm very quiet."

The key may be whether she's to stay in training next year. If she does, there will be plenty more opportunities to win another Group race then. If the owners decide to retire her, however, the Jockey Club Cup might be the more likely target as her final race."

When the tantalus is produced and Sir Mark lights up one of his dramatic cigars there will, however, be talk of just one race. Alphaeus has a squeak, but the filly is as good a bet as you will ever come across in a race like the Cesarewitch. "Alleluia would technically have the best chance being so well in," Prescott added. "She clearly stays well, which has come as a great surprise to us.

"Alphaeus will also see out the nine-furlong Cambridgeshire trip really well, which I believe is so important when you're trying to win this race. My two previous winners [Quinlan Terry in 1988 and Pasternak in 1997] both stayed it really well. Both horses would prefer faster ground, though Alphaeus would probably be the more inconvenienced of the two by softer ground."

Newmarket's spasmodic offering to racegoers this week begins this afternoon with a card featuring the Cheveley Park Stakes for kudos and the Tattersalls Houghton Sales Stakes for money. The former includes a sprinkling of some of the best fillies seen this season and, after sifting through the various form lines and trying to make some sense of the encounter, it seems appropriate that Queen's Logic (2.05) should be the winner.

The sales race was collected 12 months ago by Aidan O'Brien's Mozart and there are strong prospects that Ballydoyle will again be the temple for the winning trophy. Landseer (1.35) has the form in the book here, having beaten Firebreak in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

There are persuasive chances too for ORIENTAL MOON (nap 1.05) and Pulau Pinang (3.50), but the star of the show may be a horse who has never even run before. Black Sam Bellamy makes his debut over the Suffolk plains and has family honour to maintain. From 3.15 this afternoon the Irish horse will be measured against his full-brother, the dual Derby winner Galileo.