Racing: Losers look to Tim whatsit

THE IDEA of a nation so transfixed by Tim Henman's semi-final date with Pete Sampras at Wimbledon on Saturday that even regular racegoers would be consumed by interest in the English hero's effort was soon laid to rest at Sandown Park.

Of course, frequent inquiries were made about Henman's progress and plenty of people paused in their deliberations to catch a glimpse of him on television, but for the proletariat it was business as usual. The majority of punters, as ever, waiting for a sign that things would soon get better, joking through an oppressively hot afternoon, laughing lest they cry.

Some prowled the course in various stages of undress, often landing up at a bar to lift one in memory. "How's that Tim whatsit doing?" a bare- chested hulk asked over the rim of his half-empty glass. Told that Henman was down two sets to one and hanging on in the third, he grunted, cruelly, "No bleedin' bottle."

Shortly before Sir Michael Stoute sent out Lonesome Dude under Gary Stevens for the second race we fell into conversation in the parade ring. "How's Henman doing?" he asked. "Won the first set, but it looks as though Sampras is coming on to his game," I replied. Stoute's response was that of a man who knows the perils of heart over head. "Love Henman to win," he said, "but you wouldn't bet against Pistol Pete."

Stoute's attention was soon diverted by developments in the race that saw Richard Quinn snatch a crucial advantage on Brilliant Red two furlongs out to hold off Lonesome Dude, who failed to find room on the rail.

From a raucous reaction in front of the stands it seemed that hunch players groping around for a good thing had taken a shine to the notion of a rare success on the Flat for Brilliant Red's trainer, Lydia Richards, who is far more prominent in jumps racing. "I thought I might be in the same boat as last year when nobody seemed interested in putting any horses with me," she said, "so it was brave of Marina George [Brilliant Red's owner] to give me a chance."

After three races, only one favourite had shown in the money, and business was slow around the boards when prices were posted for the Eclipse Stakes. Because the general opinion was that the Eclipse's 102nd staging would not be a truly run race, the Chantilly-trained favourite Croco Rouge drifted to 5-2 in the betting and, despite a valuable victory in the United States last month, Running Stag was not considered good enough to make a mark in Group One company.

By then Sampras had seen off Henman and all thoughts were concentrated on finding a way through the Eclipse's tangled web of uncertainty. Punters pored over their racecards seeking a clue, and hunch players were at it again finding encouragement in the idea that one of the two three-year olds, Fantastic Light, would be a terrifically appropriate name for an Eclipse winner.

At this point, a friend made reconnaissance under the stands and returned with a report. "They're betting Frankie's horse [Xaar]," he said.

Darryll Holland's smartly achieved victory in the previous race on Cortachy Castle suggested he was in form but not a great deal of interest was shown in his appearance on Compton Admiral in the feature race.

Banned for five weeks earlier in the season, Holland deserved a break and it came, crucially, as he sent Compton Admiral to challenge Xaar a furlong from home. A gasp went up when Holland let the reins slip from his hand, but horse and rider recovered to beat Xaar by a neck with Fantastic Light half a length away in third.

Understandably, Holland was all smiles. "Being out for such a long time hit me hard," he said, "but I had to take it on the chin. It has been a struggle, but winning this has helped to make up for the bad days." He then went out and completed a treble on the 12-1 shot That Man Again.

Holland's joy was shared by Compton Admiral's owner, Erik Penser, and his gifted young Irish trainer Gerard Butler. Not, though it seems, by many punters. "How did Henman go?" one asked, forlornly tearing up a ticket. "Lost," came the reply. "At least that's one loser I didn't back," he said.

Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say


Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style

Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes

Life and Style

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: I am currently recruiting level 3 n...

Are you a Teacher interested in Special Needs?

£110 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Are you a qualified Teacher w...


£60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job:* The Tutor will prepar...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album