Racing: Pigeon fanciers the poorer as Gazelle proves too fast

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The Independent Online
AS LONG as there are punters misguided enough to support odds-on favourites in Brighton claimers, bookmakers will thrive. One backer in particular learned a painful lesson at the south coast track yesterday, investing pounds 5,000 to win pounds 1,000 on Cape Pigeon, only to see the 1-6 favourite finish third behind the 33-1 outsider of the four-runner field, Sharp Gazelle.

The general astonishment did not extend to Bryan Smart, the winning trainer, who had recently varied Sharp Gazelle's routine on the home gallops with encouraging results. 'I've been working her in front at Lambourn and she loves it,' Smart said. 'With Stephen Davies taking five pounds off, I knew she had a chance.'

Cape Pigeon was the card's second beaten odds-on favourite. Iradah started at 8-13 for the opening maiden, but finished last of seven behind Julie Cecil's Laune. Laune was the beaten favourite in her two previous races but was easy to back yesterday, drifting out to 10-1. Iradah's supporters probably failed to appreciate the irony.