Racing: Amazing odds deter

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The Independent Online
THE discovery that Amazing Feat is favourite for the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster on Saturday will generate bitter laughter among punters who have struggled to find the winner for 20 years without so much as a place to reward them.

Mary Reveley's four-year-old was cut to 8-1 from 12-1 by Ladbrokes yesterday for the race which is supposed to kick-start punters' interest in Flat racing but more often serves only as a reminder of its frustrations. Their move is not the result of a cunningly- planned coup, more an indication that backers are blowing the dust off last year's form books.

Amazing Feat did not run until August last year, but then proceeded to win four of his eight races, culminating in the performance which underpins his place at the head of the market. Carrying 9st 9lb in heavy ground at Redcar, the gelding beat a good field by eight lengths with his jockey, Kevin Darley, easing down, and while he goes particularly well with cut in the ground, good going at Town Moor would not inconvenience him.

Even at the 10-1 offered by Coral, however, Amazing Feat is scarcely a value bet for a race which has thrown up two 33-1 winners and others at 22-1 and 20-1 in the last five years. Those who believe that a winter campaign on the all-weather tracks can give a vital edge in fitness - both the 1990 and 1991 winners had such a preparation - may be tempted by Merlins Wish, from the stable of last year's champion trainer, Richard Hannon, and widely available at 33-1. Merlins Wish started favourite for a valuable handicap at Lingfield earlier this month, and while the bare form of his third place behind Chatham Island and Amenable is not inspiring, few will leave the stalls in better shape.

Which stall that might be, and the effect it might have on his chances, would until recently have been the cause of much discussion in the run- up to the race. Recent Lincoln results, though, indicate that the bias of the draw has largely been evened out, probably by drainage work undertaken after the abandonment of the 1989 St Leger meeting, but if anything that is almost a complicating factor as none of the 24 runners can be ruled out.

Retirement and fitness allowing, Lester Piggott has been riding in the Lincoln for 40 years, but has yet to partner the winner. Runner-up last year on St Ninian - the winner, High Low, was trained by his son-in- law, William Haggas - Piggott will this year be on Petite-D-Argent, trained at Ayr by Linda Perratt.

Petite-D-Argent has not run since winning a handicap at Epsom on Oaks day last year, but the booking of Piggott several weeks ago indicates that her chances has been considered to be a good one for some time. As low as 12-1 in places, her 20-1 with the Tote is unlikely to last and represents some scarce value in an overcrowded market.

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