Dream to ease Reveley's fears for her mare

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Ascot's security measures will be stepped up to the proportions of its Royal meeting today as officials attempt to prevent a repeat of last weekend's abandoned card at Uttoxeter.

Ascot's security measures will be stepped up to the proportions of its Royal meeting today as officials attempt to prevent a repeat of last weekend's abandoned card at Uttoxeter.

There are fears that racing has become a soft target for those who wish to disrupt sporting events. Ascot itself was called off after a single race three months ago, and there have also been high-profile abandonments at the 1997 Grand National and the 1999 King George VI Chase meetings following bomb threats.

The Jockey Club have responded by issuing guidelines to each of Britain's 59 tracks on how to deal with telephone warnings and Ascot, perhaps racing's most significant political target, has put in measures to bring itself into line with other sports. "What we're doing is more of a Royal-style security programme," David Demolder, Ascot's events director, said yesterday. "We check that there is nothing here before we open the gates and check that nothing can come in once the gates are open.

"If a device was to come into the racecourse designed to cause injury to people and property it would have to be of a reasonable size. So there will be simple housekeeping measures to keep it out. If we get a phone call telling us a device is on course we would like to think we had discovered it already.

"We will search cars and we have increased our CCTV because we believe this discourages people who might want to bring something on to the racecourse. We're bringing ourselves much closer to the football club scenario, where people are physically searched on the way in. If there is less opportunity to plant the device the police can be much more confident about whether there is a device on site."

It should be quite a crowded site this afternoon at Ascot as the Victor Chandler Chase day has been augmented by the Tolworth Hurdle from Sandown's weather-hit meeting. The Grade One hurdle, a rather sumptuous way of beginning a card, should concern St Pirran (12.55) and Razer Blade, who dominated a similarly high-class contest at Cheltenham last month.

The Victor Chandler Chase is, as usual, a contest of some distinction, headed by Tiutchev, who beat Cenkos and Decoupage in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival last spring. The eight-year-old ran like a pig on his most recent outing, when last of seven in the Tingle Creek Chase at Cheltenham, but Nicky Henderson, his trainer, promises we will see a different horse now. The image of Prestbury Park, however, is too enduring.

Martin Pipe's Exit Swinger was cut considerably in the ante-post betting at the beginning of the week and will now be partnered by an emaciated Tony McCoy. The champion jockey has had a face as long as those of his mounts recently as the champion trainer has struggled to provide him with winners. The heir to Richard Dunwoody has proved more like his old foe in more than one respect and is not worth approaching today either before or after the race, as Exit Swinger cannot win from 4lb out of the handicap.

Save your time instead for the connections of FUNCTION DREAM (nap 2.00). The mare looked a little out of the ordinary when she beat Davoski and Celibate, opponents again today, in the Castleford Chase at Wetherby over Christmas. The nine-year-old's trainer, Mary Reveley, worries that Ascot might pose a different examination to the Yorkshire track, but then Reveley worries each morning that the sun might not come up. Get on.

At the Queen's course there are also probabilities for Dusk Duel (1.30) and Doctor Goddard (next best 2.35), while, at Newcastle in the Dipper Novices' Chase, Crocadee (3.25) can erase the memory of his near fatal fall at Kempton.

Warwick stages the most valuable race in its history, the Warwickshire Gold Cup, and the loot should go to Royale De Vassy (3.05).

Also before the cameras, in Ireland tomorrow, is the contest known as the Ladbroke before the bookmakers took their bat home. Tune in to Sunday Grandstand, between the skiing and indoor bowls, for Michael Mor (2.35) in the Pierse Hurdle at Leopardstown.

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