Racing: For The Present a gift to bookies

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The Independent Online
FOR THE PRESENT, a 16-1 shot, saved bookmakers from a monster payout when he inched home in a blanket finish from the well-backed pair Poker Chip and Humbert's Landing in the Vodac Stewards' Cup Handicap here yesterday. All three horses broke the six-

furlong course record as they flashed past the line locked together.

The camera revealed that the winner, ridden by Jimmy Fortune and trained at Thirsk by David Barron, had repelled Poker Chip's lightning finish by a short-head, with a head between Poker Chip (8-1) and Humbert's Landing, the 7-1 favourite on whom the jockey Richard Quinn was putting up what may have been a costly 2lb overweight. The fourth home, Lord Olivier, was a length and three-quarters back.

For The Present's last win came more than a year before yesterday's race and, though he has run well in his five starts this season, neither Barron nor the gelding's owner Jenny Hazell had made the long journey from Yorkshire to Sussex to watch their four-year-old's tilt at the pounds 37,627 prize.

Fortune only just did; if the weights for the big handicap had not gone up 17lb with the withdrawal of the top weights on Friday he would not have taken the mount.

As it was, the former champion apprentice, who returned to his Southport home from Edinburgh's evening meeting at 2am yesterday and left for Goodwood at eight, put up a pound overweight.

Throughout the race, one of the most competitive sprint handicaps of the season, there were only two leaders among the 26 runners. The white-faced Gorinsky blazed the trail down the centre of the course until For The Present, heading the far side group, took over a furlong and a half out.

Humbert's Landing challenged throughout the closing stages and Poker Chip came with a tremendous run from off the pace and was in front a stride past the line, but For The Present's nose was in the right place when it mattered.

The Stewards' Cup is one of the biggest betting races of the year and, though For The Present's win saved bookmakers from a fleecing, Hills had to shell out pounds 56,000 to one punter who invested pounds 4,000 on the winner before racing.

Venture Capitalist finished sixth, followed by How's Your Father, Mister Jolson, Margaret's Gift and Petula, but the second favourite Duplicity beat only three and the stewards ordered a routine test.

In the Vodafone Nassau Stakes, Hawajiss, as grand and as game a filly as you could wish to see, picked up her due reward for her fine placed efforts in two Classics, the English and Irish Oaks. The daughter of Kris, third to Balanchine at Epsom and second to Bolas at The Curragh, set off in front as is her wont and, on this occasion, there was nothing good enough to pass her. The challengers in the straight were Relatively Special and, after finding room, Del Deya, but Hawajiss put her handsome head down and answered Walter Swinburn's urgings willingly to hold the pair by half a length and the same.

Four lengths behind, Bulaxie ran her best race since her Oaks flops, but was still not good enough. Wind In Her Hair, who started 4-1 joint- favourite with the winner, faded to finish in fifth place after an effort two furlongs out. And once again the unlucky Glatisant did not get the opportunity to show her talents; last time out she unseated her jockey in the stalls, and yesterday she was withdrawn at the start after her bridle broke.

Hawajiss, home-bred by her owner Maktoum Al Maktoum, may renew rivalry with Bolas in the Yorkshire Oaks at York in 17 days' time.