Racing: Kaibo to bowl out the bookies

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The Independent Online
WHATEVER THE collective noun is for a group of handicaps - a frustration? - punters are looking at a serious one today, and unless treated with caution, the afternoon's action could prove expensive. One small crumb of consolation, though, is that you will need to try very hard indeed to finish the day as far into the red as Mrs Hildegarde Focke, the wife of a German cigarette tycoon. Shortly before midday, she will - excuse the pun - cough up pounds 75,000 to get Lucido back into the Derby, a race from which he was removed in March.

Even with a half-million or so in prize-money to the winning owner after next Saturday's Classic, not to mention millions more in syndication fees in the years to come, that is a serious punt by anyone's standards.

The handicaps at Haydock this afternoon have their points of interest, particularly the first two, over the straight course, in which a high draw, near the stands' rail, could be a significant advantage. The contest which looks most attractive on this basis is the Sandy Lane Rated Handicap, since one of the horses vying for favouritism this morning, Now Look Here, will leave stall two, which is a significant obstacle to overcome in such a competitive race. Guinea Hunter, another obvious candidate, has a better pitch in 12, but the value could be John Gosden's Threat (next best 2.30), at around 8-1.

Backing horses which finished stone-cold last on their most recent outing is not something to make a habit of, but Threat - whose sire and dam were both Group One winners - can be forgiven his 10th of 10 in the Shergar Cup Sprint at Goodwood two weeks ago. It was a far better race, and Threat was still going well until he could find nowhere to go two furlongs out. With improvement likely, he must go close.

The bet in the opener is more speculative, and a horse with many more miles on the clock, but Moon Strike (2.00) is very fairly weighted on his best form. Although he is now nine, he showed enough on his seasonal debut to give him a good chance today at double-figure odds, and he is well drawn in stall 16.

The most valuable race of the day by some way is the Silver Bowl Handicap, in which most punters will plump for either Mukasol or Swallow Flight because they won last time out and both represent big-name trainers.

Swallow Flight looks to have the stronger claims, but Geoff Wragg, his trainer, is not exactly sending out winners daily at present, unlike Richard Hannon, who has struck a rich vein of form after a slow start to the season. His KAIBO (nap 3.00), who ran particularly well to finish second - to one of his stable-mates - at Goodwood last week, has a low weight and an excellent chance.

The quality this afternoon is at Kempton, where Killer Instinct takes on Kalanisi and Peace Of Mind in the Listed Heron Stakes. Killer Instinct seen a racecourse just three times, but he has started long odds-on on every occasion, thanks mainly to some glowing reports from Henry Cecil's gallops.

He was even - briefly - favourite for the 2,000 Guineas a few weeks ago, but despite all the money which has found its way onto his back in his brief career, he has obliged his supporters only once. Some may give him another chance today, particularly after he finally broke his duck in a laughably weak Nottingham maiden last time out, but Kalanisi (3.35) is the more reliable option.

Tread carefully in the remainder of the televised cards, where minor handicaps and tricky conditions events are jostling for attention. One exception, though, could be the sprint handicap at Kempton, in which Arpeggio (4.40) can prove once again that few trainers have the touch of David Nicholls when it comes to enhancing other people's cast-offs.

Results and evening cards, page 28


Nap: Cubism

(Haydock 2.30)

NB: Date

(Haydock 3.00)