Three of the country's finest tracks are racing today, but it is a more humble venue which could be the stage for a historic achievement. Martin Pipe has long cherished an ambition to become the first trainer to saddle all six winners on a single card, and at Exeter this evening he will surely go very close indeed.
At the same course four years ago, Pipe sent out the first five winners only to see his sixth challenger beaten by three and a half lengths.
Tonight, a convoy of horseboxes will make the short trip from his yard at Nicholashayne, carrying nine of the 26 runners declared for the meeting and, in all but the third event, the trainer seems sure to field a strong favourite.
Philip Hobbs is the man who will have an obvious suspect if someone puts sugar in his petrol tank. Charged, his runner in the novice hurdle, was a clear leader when unseating his rider at Plumpton three weeks ago, but if either All Clear or Sozzled can add to Pipe's expected successes in the first two events, their trainer will fancy his chances in the final three.
He might even be spared a repeat of his sixth-race disappointment four years ago, since Blue Raven, the only opponent for Pipe's Shikaree in the last, was unplaced at Worcester last night and is far from certain to run again today.
Sky subscribers will be able to watch Pipe's record attempt as it unfolds, not to mention four races from Goodwood which, together with those on Channel 4 from Newmarket this afternoon, makes a total of 12 televised events. This is on a day when Hard To Figure, the 1993 Ayr Gold Cup winner, is probably the best-known horse on view, in the Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket which is now named in memory of the murdered trainer Alex Scott. Saint Express (3.35), an improved performer this year even at the age of five, should take this Listed contest, while Thaljanah (4.10) and Blushing Grenadier (3.05) will also run well.
The names may be unfamiliar now, but it will be no surprise if a runner in one of Newmarket's two-year-old maiden races goes on to achieve considerable renown next season. Henry Cecil's Pricket, who contests the opener at Sandown, is another interesting debutante. A full-sister to Diminuendo, the 1989 Oaks winner, her efforts on the gallops have been creating quite an impression.
If the maidens and handicaps make no appeal, Ladbrokes will now offer you odds on the St Leger, the season's final Classic, at Doncaster on 9 September. It is no surprise to find that Presenting, third in the Derby and more impressive still when winning the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury, is the firm's favourite at 2-1.
Affidavit and Swain, both trained by Andre Fabre, are co-second favourites on 7-1 with Clive Brittain's Luso. They then bet: 8-1 Classic Cliche and Larrocha, 10-1 Court Of Honour and Double Eclipse, 14-1 Istidaad, 16-1 bar. Sanmartino, winner of the Ebor Handicap at York last week, is available at 20-1.
The best racing anywhere this weekend is at Arlington Park, and David Loder has wisely removed himself to the Chicago track with three of his best performers. Prince Of Andros, who will run in the Arlington Million, La Confederation (Beverley D Stakes) and Port Lucaya (Tolomeo Stakes) all worked on the track yesterday and are reported to have arrived in excellent shape.Reuse content