Compton proves himself a Portland banker

Gerard Butler-trained sprinter lands a major gamble from 8-1 to 7-2 in big handicap on opening day
Click to follow
The Independent Online

If punters did not get it wrong more often than they get it right, then Ladbrokes' 1,800 betting shops would probably be coffee bars instead. Just occasionally, however, there are moments when the favourite backers get it right, and Compton Banker's victory in the Portland Handicap here yesterday was one of them.

If punters did not get it wrong more often than they get it right, then Ladbrokes' 1,800 betting shops would probably be coffee bars instead. Just occasionally, however, there are moments when the favourite backers get it right, and Compton Banker's victory in the Portland Handicap here yesterday was one of them.

They will probably give it all back today, but so what? Yesterday, for 68 glorious seconds, these punters were the kings of the betting jungle. Odds of 8-1 and 7-1 were chalked up against Compton Banker in the morning, but by the time he was led into the stalls on Town Moor, a wave of cash had washed him all the way down to 7-2 favourite.

A banker indeed, and one who paid a good rate of interest, although it took him all of the Portland's five furlongs and 140 yards to live up to his name. A quarter of a mile out, in fact, Compton Banker looked to be going nowhere but backwards, and Frankie Dettori shook his reins in mid-division apparently without response. Yet no sooner had Delegate, a 33-1 outsider carrying the hopes of virtually every bookmaker in the country, hit the front than Dettori's orange silks appeared from nowhere on his inside.

One irresistible burst of speed later, the gamble had been landed. The problem, according to Gerard Butler, the winning trainer, was that the race had almost been too easy for Compton Banker.

He said: "He is a horse who likes to have to fight his way through horses. If it is all too straightforward he loses interest and Frankie said that this was almost too straightforward for him. There was no banging and bumping in front of him, so he had to switch and then switch him again before going for his run, then he snapped into his bridle and did it very nicely. When you drop them out and take them through a wall of horses, sometimes you get up and sometimes you don't, but he's been very consistent for a long time and this is a just reward for him."

No sooner had the punters collected their winnings than the bookmakers were offering prices of between 7-1 and 10-1 about Compton Banker winning the Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday week. This, though, may have been simply a cunning plan to get some of their money back, since the colt is far from certain to run.

Butler said: "He's had a busy time of late and we don't want to get too greedy because he's going to make a lovely four-year-old. If he bounces back well enough we'd probably be tempted, but it all depends on the ground. He likes lively ground, but the Ayr Gold Cup is sometimes a little soft and we don't want to break his heart. Next year he'll be mentally tougher and he'll probably be a better horse as well."

The biggest winner of all on Town Moor yesterday was Jenny Powell, who picked up £155,590 when her two-year-old colt Goggles won the bonus-laden St Leger Yearling Sales Stakes. The biggest, and probably the luckiest too, since Goggles had been through a sales ring no fewer than four times before he finally found his way to Powell and her trainer, Henry Candy. There is rarely any great strength in depth in this race, but Goggles won with something in hand and his trainer feels he will be up to Group company next season.

Candy said: "He is not a typical two-year-old, he is a big, scopey horse, eye-catching with a touch of class about him. I would like to put him to bed for the year now. This ground would not have been ideal for him either, he has had a touch of sore shins and we don't want to overdo him."

Powell, who paid £25,000 after seeing Goggles at Doncaster's Breeze-Up Sale earlier this year, will probably never make a shrewder investment in her life.

The flipside of the coin, though, is the unfortunate person who successfully bid £20,000 for Goggles at last year's Leger sale, but then could not come up with the cash when it mattered.

Comments