Racing: Pet pulls Lewis nearer to target

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GEOFF LEWIS'S annual bet with the bookmakers on the number of winners he will train seems poised to succeed again. Lewis needs just six wins to reach this year's target of 50 after Neptune's Pet made his fourth contribution to the total at Sandown yesterday.

Having taken odds of 33-1 and 40-1, Lewis will win pounds 125,000 if he can reach the half-century before the close of the turf season. His staff will share pounds 25,000 of the return. 'It gives the lads an interest and they work that much harder,' said Lewis, who will train Neptune's Pet for the Cambridgeshire.

One lad who worked rather too hard at Sandown, the apprentice Damien Smith, was suspended for two days for his use of the whip on Confronter, the favourite for the final race who, despite Smith's efforts, finished fourth.

At Yarmouth, Ray Cochrane took a tumble in the opening race when Chequer clipped the heels of another horse. The Ulsterman rode Beggarman Thief to victory for John Gosden in the next but then gave up the rest of his rides.

'I'm just feeling a bit battered and bruised as I got kicked round a bit,' Cocrane said. Fortunately it did not require a great deal of exertion to bring home Beggarman Thief, but Cochrane's efforts brought a tribute from Jeremy Noseda, Gosden's assistant. 'He is a nervous horse and Ray gave him a beautiful ride from the back, which is just want he needed.'

Gosden's horses for three major races inspired punters yesterday. His Mashaallah was shortened to 7-2 favourite for Saturday's Irish St Leger with William Hill, who make Brier Creek the 7-1 favourite for Newbury's Autumn Cup the same day. Daru is now 8-1 favourite, from 10-1, for the Cesarewitch on 17 October.

(Photograph omitted)