Racing: Left turn for Miinnehoma

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The Independent Online
MARTIN PIPE'S last minute Christmas preparations were rather more nerve-wracking than simply picking up a bottle of sweet sherry for grandma. The champion trainer waited until minutes before the Boxing Day declaration deadline before deciding to scratch Miinnehoma, last year's Sun Alliance Chase winner, from the King George VI Chase, in favour of a challenge for the Welsh National at Chepstow on 28 December.

Concern about Miinnehoma's ability to produce his best around Kempton's right-handed course was the main reason for Pipe's decision. The gelding started favourite for the SGB Chase at Ascot last weekend, but ruined his chance by persistently jumping to his left. 'Miinnehoma schooled normally yesterday, and he didn't seem to jump so badly left-handed as he did at Ascot,' Pipe said yesterday. 'But there's no doubt that right-handed is not his favourite way round.'

Pipe's decision prompted some rearrangement in the ante-post market for Monday's race. Miinnehoma was introduced into Coral's list as second favourite at 4-1, with his stable-mate Run For Free eased to 11-4 favourite, from 9-4.

Pipe has just one representative, the moderate handicap hurdler Noble Insight, at Kempton's showpiece meeting on Boxing Day. Sulli Boy (1.45) is likely to beat him, while Barton Bank (1.15) can get the better of Cab On Target in a novice event which brings together two hugely promising young chasers. Satin Lover (12.45) and Dusty Miller (2.50) are also likely winners.

The bloodstock industry's most fervent Christmas wish is for a resolution to the problem of VAT rate differentials which is threatening to destroy its competitiveness. John Major, the prime minister, promised in a letter to Labour MP Alf Morris yesterday that discussions with Customs & Excise aimed at resolving the anomaly are making progress, and that a reaction from Customs is expected 'in the very near future.'

Last week a House of Commons Employment Committee report predicted that 'thousands of jobs' would be lost if immediate action was not forthcoming. The Committee's recommended solution, the VAT registration of racehorse owners, would require a revision by Customs and Excise of its strict interpretation of 'business' and 'hobby' expenses.

A number of horses are engaged at more than one meeting on Boxing Day. The They are listed below followed by their first preference with their second preference in brackets.

Affair Of Honour: 2.40 Market Rasen (1.20 Sedgefield); All Greek To Me: 2.00 Wetherby (3.05 Wolverhampton); Amphigory: 1.45 Newton Abbot (3.10 Wincanton); Barkisland: 2.25 Sedg (1.35 MR); Black Humour: 1.35 Wol (2.30 Weth); Blanc Seing: 1.00 Weth (3.40 MR); Braida Boy: 2.05 Wol (1.00 Huntingdon); Bustonian: 3.15 NA (3.10 Winc); Candy Tuff: 1.50 Sedg (3.00 Weth); Chantry Bartle: 2.40 MR (3.25 Sedg); Clonony Castle: 2.05 MR (2.55 Sedg); Cogent: 2.10 Winc (2.50 Kemp); Cold Marble: 2.15 NA (3.10 Winc); Diamond Inthe Dark: 3.40 MR (1.00 Weth); Dolly Prices: 3.30 Weth (1.00 MR); Express Reale: 2.05 Wol (2.00 Hunt); Fair Brother: 2.35 Wol (12.45 NA); Fettucine: 12.30 MR (3.00 Weth); Flight Hill: 2.25 Sedg (1.35 MR); Gymcrak Stardom: 2.40 MR (3.25 Sedg); Irish Ditty: 1.00 MR (3.30 Weth); Its All Over Now: 3.05 Wol (3.00 Hunt); Jack Snipe: 3.10 Winc (2.15 NA); Jimster: 2.30 Hunt (1.10 Winc); Kilclooney Forrest: 3.00 Weth (2.05 MR); Kilkilmartin: 2.35 Wol (12.30 Hunt); Lady Remainder: 2.55 Sedg (2.05 MR); Letterfore: 3.00 Weth (2.05 MR); Lirie Lad: 2.15 NA (2.05 Wol); Macedonas: 3.00 Hunt (3.05 Wol); Mac Rambler: 2.05 Wol (1.20 Sedg); Madraj: 1.45 NA (1.45 Kemp); Mega Blue: 2.25 Sedg (1.35 MR); Mill De Lease: 1.20 Sedg (2.40 MR); Mossgara: 3.20 Kemp (1.40 Winc); My Key Silca: 3.00 Hunt (3.05 Wol); Night Wind: 3.10 Winc (3.30 Weth); Ratify: 2.40 MR (2.00 Weth); Secret Summit: 12.30 Hunt (12.30 MR); Sleepline Royale: 3.05 Wol (3.00 Hunt); Spree Cross: 2.25 Sedg (1.35 MR); Stated Case: 2.05 MR (2.55 Sedg); Stormhead: 12.35 Wol (3.15 NA); The Illywhacker: 2.20 Kemp (2.10 Winc); Third In Line: 2.30 Weth (1.10 Winc); Vasiliev: 1.00 Weth (3.10 MR); Viking Venture: 1.00 MR (3.00 Hunt); What A Noble: 1.00 Hunt (2.05 Wol); Whirling Cone: 1.05 Wol (2.05 MR).