Racing: Cab to slam brakes on Jodami: The leading Gold Cup contenders renew rivalry at Haydock, but punters should steer clear. Greg Wood reports

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The Independent Online
THE front two in the Gold Cup betting, Jodami and Cab On Target, meet for the second time in three weeks at Haydock this afternoon, but it seems unlikely that the Edward Hanmer Memorial Chase will prove any more conclusive than the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last month.

The imponderable that day was whether Jodami was going like a winner before he came down four out. Mark Dwyer, his jockey, predictably believed that he was, while Peter Niven, on Cab On Target, was equally sure that he had Jodami covered. Mishaps apart, today's problem will surely be a lack of pace. Jodami must be held up, Cab On Target is unlikely to play into his hands by setting a strong lead and Old Road, the only other runner, is a second-rate handicapper whose trainer has cleverly found a way to be paid for exercising him. Third place is worth almost pounds 2,000.

So expect them to set off like pony-trekkers, and return shortly before lighting-up time. As for predicting the winner, the decisive factor - and another which could complicate accurate analysis of the form - could be the 15lb which Jodami must concede to Mary Reveley's gelding.

'It's a lot of weight to give away,' Peter Beaumont, Jodami's trainer, said yesterday, though he is confident that the fall at Wetherby has not had any lasting effect on the Gold Cup winner. 'He's had a pop or two (over schooling fences) and managed to get over it, he was just a bit bruised. I think it was lack of concentration, he got a bit careless. I don't think he's lost his confidence.'

Given Beaumont's worries about the weight concession, and the thought that Dwyer's principal concern may be an accident-free round, it seems likely that Cab On Target will lead the way home.

Clearly, though, this is not a contest to be betting on, not even with a defiant 50p on Old Road at 50-1 on the basis that, if they ran the race 50 times, he might well win once, since Haydock's stiff drop fences can catch out the best.

With the day's richest race a non-starter for punters, it is perhaps not surprising that the bookmakers cranked up interest by drawing up lists on Saturday's Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree, one of two races on the card over the National fences.

Usher's Island, the mount of Adrian Maguire, is 7-2 favourite with Ladbrokes and Coral, but 9-2 with Hills.

The latter firm then bets: 5-1 Indian Tonic, 13-2 Far Senior and Mister Ed, 7-1 Latent Talent, 8-1 Garrison Savannah (who went so close to winning the National itself in 1991), 10-1 Merano, 12-1 Channels Gate, 14-1 others. Latent Talent carries a wealth warning: he shows his best form on a solid surface, but the latest going forecast is good to soft.

Norman Williamson took advantage of a slow day for his new employer, Kim Bailey, and went to Ireland to partner Belvederian at Fairyhouse. Mouse Morris's novice chaser, a high-class staying hurdler last year, jumped poorly when ridden by Charlie Swan on his debut over jumps at Leopardstown recently, but fenced fluently for Williamson and beat Sullane River, the favourite, by six lengths.

Morris may now send Belvederian to Newbury for the Hennessy meeting the weekend after next, in company with the Tipperary stable's Gold Cup hope Cahervillahow, who was ridden by Williamson in a schooling run after racing yesterday.

Fahd Salman will not appoint a successor to Alan Munro as his retained jockey and will use the best rider available for his string next season. Richard Quinn, stable jockey to Paul Cole, the owner's main trainer, will benefit, while Munro will also continue to ride for Salman. Anthony Penfold, Salman's racing manager, said that there was 'no particular reason' why Munro's contract had not been renewed. 'It was just decided not to retain a jockey for next season.'

(Photograph omitted)