Racing: Piggott ready for action: The return of a legend provides an oasis of interest at Newmarket, but Swedish racegoers are deserted

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The Independent Online
NEWMARKET offers perhaps its most sterile Saturday card of the season this afternoon, but will be rescued by a man whose age suggests he should be pottering among the vegetables on an allotment. Nine days after his 58-year-old frame was bouncing along the baked turf at Goodwood, Lester Piggott returns to the competitive saddle for four races at Headquarters.

Old Stoneface has been booked by four different trainers, including Ben Hanbury, who this week referred to the jockey as 'a genius'. This is unlikely to have been the epithet used by Benny Karlsson, the secretary of the Jagerso Racing Club in Sweden, where Piggott was due to ride in the Swedish Derby meeting tomorrow.

An estimated pounds 15,000 had been spent on advertising the great man's visit, including a racecard with his face beaming out from the cover. This is as near as Scandinavian punters will get to seeing the jockey this weekend.

Piggott faxed Karlsson earlier this week to say he would not be riding because of his fall, which is an odd excuse given his activity today and his journey to Germany tomorrow to ride the Queen's Sharp Prod.

If the focus is on horses rather than jockeys today, the meeting to attend would be Haydock, where the Rose Of Lancaster Stakes has attracted an interesting field, most notably Cezanne. Sheikh Mohammed's horse will be the first animal belonging to the world's most powerful owner to carry advertising logos.

For those peering through the binoculars, Cezanne will be recognisable not only by the Godolphin Racing colours of his pilot, Gary Hind, but also by the Arabic insignia of the Emirates airline on the jockey's silks.

Among his rivals are Royal Ballerina, last year's Oaks runner-up, Needle Gun, who has been the best maiden in training for longer than Clive Brittain would like, and Glatisant, who is living proof that Geoff Wragg failed to buy any heather from the gypsies at the Derby. The filly has made it to the start but got no further on her last two visits to the racecourse, unseating Pat Eddery in the stalls at Newmarket and being withdrawn with a broken bridle at Goodwood.

Jack Berry's fortunes, on the other hand, are at a pinnacle, the Cockerham trainer having recorded his fifth successive century this week. Among the ambitions remaining for the Yorkshireman is to train a Group One winner, a wish which may be fulfilled tomorrow when Mind Games contests the Heinz 57 Stakes at Leopardstown.

Among the competition tomorrow will be the unlucky Goodwood loser Fallow, who has been supplemented for IR pounds 18,500, and General Monash, who represents the trainer/owner team of Peter Chapple-Hyam and Robert Sangster, who were successful 12 months ago with Turtle Island.

Sangster was on the golf course during a holiday in the South of France this week wondering whether it was possible to organise a flight from Nice to see one of his many racehorses in action. So if you think you have got problems, just spare a thought for Robert.

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