Racing: Chip can raise stakes

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The Independent Online
FORTY-EIGHT hours after seeing two contests at Fontwell ruined by an inelegant protest against prize-money levels, what are Britain's punters to make of this afternoon's feature race at Newmarket? A first prize of pounds 75,000 for the Cheveley Park Stakes has succeeded in attracting a derisory four runners (and the course was ready to pay out down to sixth), a point which will surely not be lost on the big bookmakers when it is next suggested that more of their profits should find their way back to the turf, writes Greg Wood.

In the case of many owners and trainers, the problem seems to be that their cowardice is getting the better of their greed. Lyric Fantasy, as fast a juvenile as even the most wizened observer has seen, and Sayyedati, the long-range favourite for the 1,000 Guineas, form 50 per cent of today's field, but while the latter's stable-mate Anonymous is running only for place money, the final member of the quartet, Poker Chip (3.40), may well provide a poke in the eye for those who decided to keep their horses at home.

Many were inclined to dismiss Poker Chip's 33-1 success in the Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster earlier this month as a fluke, but an alternative view is that after a poor run on poorer ground and a struggle to shake off a virus, her effort on Town Moor was a belated revelation of her true ability. Lyric Fantasy's achievement in becoming the first juvenile for 36 years to win York's Nunthorpe Stakes was remarkable, but her season has been long and today's trip is a new one, while Sayyedati had to work much harder than expected last time and may be overrated.

Artistic Reef (3.05) has been running well in defeat all season and should find his way to the top enclosure after the Rous Stakes. Walimu (2.35) held on with commendable bravery at Sandown a fortnight ago and that courage may just give her the edge in a contest which might seem to be in the running for the season's trickiest handicap, until you start to examine the closing nursery. Royal Diva (4.10) can prevail, most probably in a 12-way photo.

Yesterday's results, page 35