Racing: Lover may spoil Lovelock's day

THE NINE-RUNNER Sunley Handicap (Class D) at Sandown today is, on the face of it, a dreary little contest which will change nothing. For the connections that may be true, but for John Lovelock of Bermondsey it might alter a lot. It could change his life.

Lovelock, 37, was the first winner last Saturday of the Tote's new superbet, the scoop6, which asks punters to select the winners of six televised races. The muse was with Lovelock at the weekend and he collected pounds 171,701 for his full house, plus pounds 487 for the place part of the bet. He now enters phase two of the wager and attempts to solve the bonus race at Esher today. If he does so, a further pounds 200,000 will come his way.

"This is potentially one of the biggest prizes ever to be offered on British television," Rob Hartnett, the Tote spokesman, said. "This will be the final stage of actually launching the bet. We've known that until we had a winner people couldn't see what the dynamics of the bet are all about. Now it will be played out live on the television and every punter will empathise with John and a free shot at pounds 200,000. It's bound to have a big impact."

Lovelock picked up his cheque at York's Ebor meeting on Tuesday. He plans to spend some of the money on a trip to the Breeders' Cup series in Florida this November and the rest should be safe. He is a mechanic who looks after cars at the Rotherhithe and Southwark police stations.

Lovelock will have another moment of fame today as he is to be a guest of The Morning Line. He will walk the course, read form, take advice and then make his decision, which could be as late as 30 minutes before the scheduled off at 4.10. The London man has had sleepless nights this week, as, no doubt, have the staff at the Ladbrokes branch in Southwark where he placed his winning bet. They stand to collect commission of pounds 10,000 themselves if the bonus horse wins.

The horse which will carry these aspirations has already been narrowed down to one of four by Lovelock. "I reckon it will be between Nichol Fifty, Borgia, who I saw run well at Newbury two outings ago, Male-Ana-Mou and Il Principe, who is in good form," he said yesterday. This, sad to relate, sounds like losing talk as the most captivating horse in the race is LEGENDARY LOVER (nap 4.10), who possesses an ironic name for a gelding.

The five-year-old does not have a great deal of form in the locker, though his best run of the season was at Sandown last month and he now competes from a 3lb lower mark. More importantly the ground has finally come right for this heavy- topped horse. Frankie Dettori has been persuaded by the arguments and takes the ride.

Dettori also partners one of Godolphin's talking horses of the winter, Etizaaz (3.40), in the preceding Atalanta Stakes. The close relative to Swain has not run this season and needs to sweep this lot aside to justify the high predictions made for her.

The easing in the going also gives a chance to Supply And Demand (next best 4.45), who might be this morning's springer, while She-Wolff (3.05) is another who has proved herself in these conditions. Peter Makin's filly was second in a Listed race at Deauville earlier this month when the ground could have been stirred.

At Chester, The Glow-Worm (3.25) a course winner, also has the going to suit, while the other one to get you into next week's guaranteed pounds 200,000 scoop6 bonus pool should be the well-drawn Sharp Rebuff (3.55).