Jackpot pay-out helped by Dreams

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The Independent Online

No millionaires, but 28 punters shared £1,367,580 as the second largest Tote Jackpot ever fell at Brighton yesterday. Interest in a midweek card which would have been flattered by being called undistinguished produced £750,000 in bets on the day to add to the roll-over boosted by freak results at Bath on Tuesday.

No millionaires, but 28 punters shared £1,367,580 as the second largest Tote Jackpot ever fell at Brighton yesterday. Interest in a midweek card which would have been flattered by being called undistinguished produced £750,000 in bets on the day to add to the roll-over boosted by freak results at Bath on Tuesday.

Since the creation of the Jackpot - which requires the selection of six winners at a given meeting - in 1966 the pool had been bettered only by the £2,050,651 at Exeter five years ago.

Yesterday's biggest winner was a Coventry-based betting shop punter who named Carnot, Look First, Apple Town, Flight Of Dreams, Chakra and Sheer Face to a £1 stake and picked up £173,699. The smallest of the £5.59-worth of winning wagers scooped a tenth of that for a 10p line. None of the successful bets was actually placed on the Sussex course itself.

The Jackpot had been rolling over since Goodwood nine days ago. Most damage was done yesterday by the first winner, a 16-1 shot, whose success brought down £706,638 worth of tickets, leaving just £39,687 going on to the second leg. By the sixth race £62.92 remained, with Sheer Face the fifth most popular choice.

It was the second time in five days that the Tote had offered winnings topping £1m. At Newmarket at the weekend a syndicate called the "Essex Boys'' had shared £1.3m in the Scoop6 bet, launched just over a year ago to replace the Jackpot on Saturdays.

By any standards it has all been a successful PR exercise for the firm which prides itself on appealing to the little man, and a timely one given that the recently-revised system of returning the non-pool starting prices is under fire, with allegations of manipulation in the big bookmaking firms' favour.

"For the big punter putting £50,000 on an even-money chance the bookies are the ones," said Tote spokesman Rob Hartnett, "but for the smaller players we are a lively alternative, particularly when these big pool bets generate momentum. If our Coventry punter had had his bet at starting price, he would have won £37,147 less."

If quality among the participants was lacking at Brighton (until yesterday the 38 runners in the first four races had failed to win a race between them in 191 attempts) the same cannot be said of the fare on the table at the weekend.

The enforced retirement of Dubai Millennium has left the mile championship wide open and several of the supporting cast will be jostling for the spotlight in Sunday's Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville. Most notable among them is four-year-old Sendawar, who shared the eight-furlong title with the stricken Godolphin champion last year and was made favourite to beat him when the pair met over 10 furlongs in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Sendawar trailed in a humiliated fourth that day, but had seemed out of sorts even before the stalls opened and his trainer Alain Royer-Dupré was convinced that the re-match, back over the distance at which the Aga Khan's colt has won three times at Group One level, would not have been entirely one-sided.

A possible protagonist is the Clive Brittain-trained Crimplene, winner of the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood only on Saturday and fast becoming racing's iron maiden; a definite runner is another three-year-old filly, the local Lady Of Chad.

Dubai Millennium is, happily, proving as model a patient as he was a racehorse as he recovers at his new home, Dalham Hall in Newmarket, from surgery on the hind leg broken on the gallops five days ago. Another Godolphin colourbearer has also run his last race; the retirement of high-class grey miler Aljabr to stud in Kentucky was announced yesterday.

Looking further ahead, next month's Champagne Stakes at Doncaster may show whether Sheikh Mohammed has been the victim of one of life's little ironies. His recent high-profile purchase Celtic Silence, head-hunted for Godolphin for a substantial sum after an eye-catching victory in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, is one of 81 entries. But consider this: if Vacamonte had condescended to go into the stalls that day at Ascot it is more than likely, judged on the style and substance of his subsequent win at Newmarket, that he would have won the Chesham. In which case Celtic Silence would not have looked like a world-beater and the Sheikh's chequebook could have stayed in thedrawer.

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