Racing: Showcase is empty again

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The Independent Online
by Ian Davies

PUNTERS will be disappointed to learn that, for the second time in 12 days since it was launched, today's Showcase Race is a farce.

The contest, the 49's Levy Board Stakes at Nottingham, has attracted just four runners and Coral, William Hill and Ladbrokes, who came in for criticism for failing to price up the 16-runner Tote Handicap at Hamilton last Monday, are not bothering with this race either. This time, however, few will blame them. Even the Tote, who have gained a reputation for leading the way in this area, are ignoring the contest.

John Smee, the BHB's representative, defended the Showcase policy, yesterday. He said: "We are very disappointed by the low turn-out. There were 17 five-day entries but I think the soft ground has had a lot to do with the race cutting up."

When asked why the BHB was pumping money into poor-man's pattern races rather than serving up 16-runner handicaps daily for punters and bookmakers to get their teeth into, Smee retorted: "Last week, the bookmakers refused to bet in advance on a 16-runner handicap at Hamilton, arguing that, being an affair for horses rated 0-75 which had attracted many moderate horses, it simply wasn't competitive enough.

"The soundings we have had in the industry suggested to us that we needed variety. Therefore, while 90 per cent of Showcase races will be handicaps, there will also be a smattering of stakes and black-type races."