Racing: Boy keeps it

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THE FORMER invalid Precious Boy sprang a 33-1 surprise in the Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle here yesterday. But it was a full hour before punters knew their fate, for the gelding had to survive an inquiry and an objection to keep the race, and the stewards' deliberations went on until after the following heat.

Precious Boy, ridden by Lorcan Wyer, and the runner- up, Riva, with Carl Llewellyn on board, came close together as they fought out the finish up the Sandown hill, but both were under pressure and the verdict was that the result was not affected.

Precious Boy's win puts him in line for a pounds 50,000 jackpot if he were to win at Cheltenham this week. He is in the County Handicap Hurdle on Thursday, but his trainer, Michael Meagher, will consider the weights before making a


Rumours from Ireland that Fortune And Fame may miss the Champion Hurdle hit the ante-post market yesterday.

The big three bookmakers reacted differently: Ladbrokes maintained its status quo, offering Oh So Risky at 3-1 and Fortune And Fame at 7-2; Hills took a stand against the Irish horse, knocking him out to 4-1 from threes and cutting Oh So Risky a point to 5-2.

Coral gave most credence to the whispers, and considers Fortune and Fame, who has had a well-documented history of leg trouble, a doubtful runner. Their spokesman Rob Hartnett said: 'We regard the fact that the Irish 'faces' have been trying to get on Oh So Risky as significant.' Coral offers the Dermot Weld-trained gelding at 11-4 'with a run'.

Weld, due back from Australia this morning, has never made any secret of Fortune And Fame's problems. The seven-year-old is due to work today, after which the situation will no doubt be clearer.

Twenty-two horses, including seven from Martin Pipe's yard, stood their ground for the Gold Cup at yesterday's five- day stage, with no surprise withdrawals.