Racing: Raheen can foil mystery of Killer

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The Independent Online
THOSE FINELY-HONED racing brains which set the odds for Britain's biggest bookies will probably be feeling a little foggy this morning. With handicaps arriving from every point of the compass, normally cautious layers have gone price-happy, with William Hill, for instance, offering a list on no fewer than nine races from opening time this morning, which must be some sort of record. Overload the customers with opportunities, the theory seems to be, and they will soon be punting putty in our hands.

But if you can resist the temptation to construct a nine-horse acca which would catapult you straight into the Michael Tabor league if it came up, there are some strong and worthwhile races to concentrate on today. Best of all, the feature race of the day, the John Smith's Cup - better- known and loved as the Magnet Cup in previous years - includes a short- priced favourite who is begging to be opposed.

The beast in question is Killer Instinct, who already features on a Wanted poster in many punters' mental rogues' galleries. A beaten favourite on three of his five outings, twice at long odds-on, he went some way towards justifying an immense home reputation when fourth, having stumbled on the home turn, in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

That form would appear to give him an outstanding chance with just 8st 8lb to carry today. Whether he can reproduce it, though, particularly given a demanding step up in trip to 10 furlongs, is not something that anyone would want to take on trust at odds of around 7-4. There are some tough old cookies in today's field, and any character flaws in Killer Instinct's make-up will be ruthlessly exposed.

Rule him out and you can give an each-way chance to most of the rest, including Pasternak, the winner two years ago and runner-up 12 months ago, whose jockey, George Duffield, will take the ride today despite an injured finger. He looks to be in the grip of the handicapper, though, unlike Siege, the runner-up in the Britannia Stakes, and Dee Pee Tee Cee, who is on a winning run of four and probably still ahead of the handicapper.

At the prices, though, the bet has to be Raheen (next best 4.10) at 25- 1. Richard Fahey's runner finished in mid-division in last week's big handicap at Sandown, having pulled hard through the first six furlongs, but he should settle better today with a fierce pace almost guaranteed.

Prior to that he was fourth to Showboat in the Royal Hunt Cup when racing on the wrong side of the track. That puts him in with a real chance, despite being priced up almost as a no-hoper.

Showboat also returns to the track today, after his six-length canter in the Hunt Cup. He is back at Ascot too, for a Listed event over a mile, but this time in a smallish field on the round course rather than the straight mile against 30-odd opponents which suited him so well last time.

A reproduction of the Hunt Cup form would see him win with something in hand, but given the different conditions, it may be worth opposing both Showboat and Pythios, who won the Britannia in similar circumstances at the Royal meeting. The bet against them is the adaptable Sugarfoot (2.30) who, like Raheen, raced down the stands side in the Hunt Cup, finishing sixth. He is five years old, but put up possibly the best run of his life just two outings ago at York, so he may still be improving even now.

Others with major chances in today's handicaps are the well-drawn Bintang Timor (3.00) and Palio Sky (3.35) in the stayers' race, while BATCHWORTH BELLE (nap 3.05) is seriously overpriced for the sprint at Ascot. A hot pace is guaranteed, which will suit her hold-up style of running, and even from a wide draw, 12-1 is a huge price for a horse who looked to be returning to her best form last time out.

The most prestigious race of the weekend is tomorrow's Irish Oaks at the Curragh, although no one will get rich backing Ramruma, who won the original version at Epsom in such compelling style. There are no fortunes to be made by opposing her either, though, so the best advice is to sit back and enjoy the spectacle as this brilliant filly goes about her work.

Hyperion's tips and cards for tomorrow's three meetings will appear in the Independent on Sunday