Racing: Rambo's Hall finds the weight worthwhile: Greg Wood reports from Newmarket

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The Independent Online
SOME trainers scheme all year to get their horse a winning weight in the Cambridgeshire Handicap. They run it on soft ground when it wants firm, over 12 or seven furlongs when it needs nine, and do not complain too much if it loses a length or two at the start one day. Be assured that they cried themselves to sleep last night.

Rambo's Hall won the Cambridgeshire three years ago with almost unheard of ease off a handicap rating of 90, and returned to this country after an unsuccessful spell in the United States to be greeted by a mark 17lb higher. After putting the effects of a tendon injury behind him, he proceeded to win two claiming races, only for his trainer, Jeremy Glover, to discover when the Cambridgeshire weights were published that Rambo's Hall had been dropped by 20lb. Clearly, someone with considerable celestial influence is watching over him.

Rambo's Hall returned to Newmarket yesterday, and won the Cambridgeshire with all the ease with which the weighty mathematics suggested he would. Backed to 9-2 favourite in a field of 30, he looked to have found trouble in running as the field bunched and scrimmaged in the first three of the race's nine furlongs, but his jockey, Dean McKeown, soon weaved into room and from two furlongs out the only questions in anyone's mind were when will he hit the front and how far will he win by.

A furlong out and two and a half lengths were the answers, with Lester Piggott on Montpelier Boy holding Double Entendre by a short head for second, and losing punters could take some comfort from the fact that Rambo's Hall proved that horses are not quite as unpredictable as they seem.

Not that weights are everything, of course. It was still down to Glover to get his horse to the track ready to run for his life, and afterwards the trainer recalled the chequered career of Rambo's Hall, and his own part in it, with relish.

The horse was sold to the United States for pounds 100,000 not long after his initial Cambridgeshire victory, but proved wholly incapable of reproducing his form on either dirt or turf. His new connections finally phoned Glover in despair and after a little haggling he agreed to take Rambo's Hall back for pounds 25,000.

That judgement looked suspect when the horse arrived at Glover's yard with warts on his chest and proceeded, more seriously, to chafe a tendon. It was not until this season that Rambo's Hall took his first steps back on a British racecourse. They will probably lead him back to Newmarket again this time next year, but as Glover said, 'we'll have to see what the handicapper makes of him'. That official's normally elephantine memory may have let him down this time, but few will be betting on a second lapse.

Last week's heavy hint from the Maktoum family that they may take their animals elsewhere was ominous for Newmarket, where racing is so pervasive that dogs dispatched to the doormat to pick up the Life in the morning tend to sit down and read it themselves.

This thought was not far from the mind of Luca Cumani, one of the town's most respected residents, after his Red Slippers, owned by Sheikh Mohammed, had held on in a desperate finish from Feminine Wiles in the Sun Charriot Stakes. 'She will make a lovely broodmare,' Cumani said. 'But let's hope that her offspring wil be racing in this country.'