Racing: Silence In Court lays down law

IT would not have been a satisfactory Chester Cup if Top Cees had not played a leading role. The old horse did not win the race (that honour went appropriately enough to Silence In Court), but he did magnetize the attention again as he almost fell in the stampede to the line.

As he was squeezed up the inside rail on the final turn for home, Top Cees collided with Candle Smile. The eight-year-old jackknifed and his partner, Jimmy Fortune, was nearly thrown from the saddle.

The stewards deferred their deliberations on this scrimmage until after the following race, but then we had become used to adjournments with Top Cees. They decided the impact was accidental. It was not a view shared by the respective trainers, particularly as both horses were injured. Lynda Ramsden did not approve of these particular damages.

"It's an absolute disgrace," she said. "They tried to put us over the rail. We're going to have to stitch the horse up and Jimmy's boot is torn." The jockey added: "There was plenty of room when I went for the gap but I got half way in and it closed on me."

The contradictory interpretation from George Barnett, Candle Smile's trainer, was that Top Cees had been forced where the sun didn't shine. His horse too had severe lacerations.

Some old adversaries from chamber 13 of the High Court had gathered to see Top Cees attempt a third Chester Cup. In the red corner, the team in debit after pounds 195,000 in damages was awarded against them earlier this year, was The Sporting Life's Alastair Down, and witnesses Derek Thompson and Jim McGrath. On the opposing benches were the Ramsdens, Jack and Lynda, plus their former stable jockey, Kieren Fallon.

Top Cees himself had not been called to give evidence on The Strand, but he seemed to be well aware of the adjudication. The gelding appeared to be grinning as he circled in the paddock. On his snout was a voluminous sheepskin noseband to which most of the flock must have contributed.

Top Cees travelled well in the race before his crash. Dato Star, though, did not even manage a full circuit before he was pulled up suffering from a fast heartbeat. Fortune was soon to know how the gelding felt.

As the jockey was dragging himself back into the saddle, Silence In Court was accelerating down the outside to give Alan Bailey his second success in the race following Old Hubert's victory 11 years ago.

Silence In Court should have won a big race before now, but in running Double Trigger to a length in Ascot's Sagaro Stakes four years ago he ruptured a tendon. He has hardly run at all since then, but he became so obnoxious at Sandy Brow Stables at the weekend that Bailey understood he was back to his best. "I knew on Sunday that I had him spot-on because, when he gets well, the horse acts like a bastard," the trainer said. "If he hasn't been ridden for six months anyone can get on him and he'll walk round half dead. But when he gets to concert pitch he starts squealing and whipping round."

Barry Hills further extended his record as the leading trainer in this parish with a double that took his lifetime total at the Roodee to 93 winners. The second of those, High And Low, won the Cheshire Oaks and is a top-priced 20-1 to win the version for grown-ups at Epsom next month.

Bookmakers yesterday report sustained backing for Cape Verdi for both the Derby and Oaks. Coral have seen a huge "Godolphin gamble" centring around the 1,000 Guineas winner for both Classics, but also on other Godolphin representatives - City Honours for the Derby and Bahr for the Oaks.

"We were knocked over in the rush for Cape Verdi, said spokesman Simon Clare. "We laid her at all rates down from 9-2 to 11-4, with a run, for the Derby, but there was also heavy support for her at 9-4 for the Oaks."

Coral cut City Honours to 12-1 from 16-1 for the blue riband and Bahr to 8-1 from 10-1 for the fillies' classic. Midnight Line also attracted support for the Oaks and is now a 9-2 chance from 6-1. Ladbrokes have cut Cape Verdi to 3-1 with a run from 5-1 for the Derby.

Gulland has been backed from 14-1 into 10-1 with Hills and City Honours from 16-1 into 12-1.


NAP: Memorise

(Chester 3.10)

NB: Superior Premium

(Chester 3.40)