Racing: Rambo's for sequel

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The Independent Online
WHILE the cream of Europe's younger horses gather in Paris over the weekend, Newmarket offers the old boys' network this afternoon.

The redoubtable Further Flight (4.15), the veteran of the field, should mop up a fourth successive victory in the Jockey Club, while the Cambridgeshire Handicap looks likely to be fought out by the race's two greybeards, the seven- year-olds Rambo's Hall and Mellottie.

Both have won the race before, Rambo's Hall in 1989 and Mellottie last year, but have been assessed differently for their successes by the handicapper. While the latter has been elevated 9lb from his winning mark, Rambo's Hall is just 2lb above the level from which he recorded a six-length victory. 'And he's better than he's ever been,' Dean McKeown, his regular jockey, says.

McKeown, who also won the Cambridgeshire in 1987 on Balthus, knew Rambo's Hall to be a good horse before he even reached the racecourse. 'He used to work as well as Balthus before he'd ever run and I remember telling Jeremy (Glover, the gelding's trainer) that I thought we had another Cambridgeshire candidate.'

Confirmation that this was not just a parade-ground peformer came on his debut at Doncaster. 'We went to the Lincoln meeting and a race with a very strong field. There was a Barry Hills horse they reckoned was going to run in the Guineas, and horses from other big trainers, but Rambo's Hall strolled in by four lengths and we knew we had a machine on our hands,' the jockey says. The machine was at full power the following season for the Cambridgeshire.

'He absolutely slaughtered them that day and then he ran second to a Michael Stoute horse in a Listed race,' McKeown says. That was just as well, because Rambo's Hall slaughtered very little for a long time after that. The horse was sold for pounds 120,000 to race in the United States, but may have thought of the venture as a holiday. 'They tried him on turf, dirt, everything, but he didn't do anything in America,' McKeown says.

By the time Rambo's Hall was sold back to Britain two years ago, at a loss of pounds 100,000, he looked a sorry beast. 'He came back with leg problems and a lot of warts on his tendon which had caused a lot of the trouble and it was touch and go whether we could ever win with him.'

But Rambo's Hall has now touched victory three times this season, most recently over a mile at Ascot. 'He won with a lot in hand that day over a mile and if it had been another furlong (today's distance) I would have won by more as I was just starting to go away from them,' McKeown says.

'The plan at Newmarket will be the usual one. Let him find his legs, just sit on him, and he should pick himself up from two furlongs out and come away from his field.' A lot, it appears, is expected of RAMBO'S HALL (nap 3.40).

There will be anticipation also about the debut of the exquisitely bred Aneesati (4.45), while others to consider at Headquarters are Perfect Circle (3.00), a close fourth in the 1,000 Guineas, and Kimberley Park (next best, 2.30), a creditable sixth at Ascot's Festival meeting after a long lay-off.

The BBC's contribution to the best weekend of international racing of the year is to make us even more aware how good the fare is elsewhere by screening three events of inconsequence at Chepstow. At least Nigel Twiston-Davies will not be complaining. The Cheltenham trainer should take all three races with Sweet Duke (2.00), Tipping Tim (2.35) and Petosku (3.10).

(Photograph omitted)

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