Racing: Music to set tempo

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The Independent Online
THE platoons of ex-Army men who prowl the Ascot enclosures will not like the idea, but the Berkshire course today stages a striking example of cowardice, writes Greg Wood.

Despite a winner's purse of over pounds 11,000, just four runners will line up for the Lightning Novice Chase. Wonder Man, unbeaten in three races over fences, is the animal putting the frighteners on any serious opposition, and since the size of the field rules out each-way betting, this is a race of academic interest only. How many trainers will be kicking themselves if Wonder Man falls at the first.

BOOK OF MUSIC (nap 2.05) will start at more rewarding odds. A repeat of his debut run behind Satin Lover at Cheltenham would suffice today, and it is reasonable to expect some improvement.

Belmount Captain (3.05) will be grateful for today's return to three miles after running down the field in the Welsh National last month, while another stayer worth a second look is Sir Crusty (next best, 3.35).

His race is by far the most competitive on the card, but his morning odds of 25-1 and upwards bear no relation to his chance. A 15- length winner over course and distance off a mark just 3lb lower than today's, he will skip through the heavy going and has shown every sign of running in to form.

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