Racing: Top Cees on Cup trail

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Merit, last year's six-length winner of the Chester Cup, is to miss Wednesday's renewal of the race. Paul Cole withdrew the five-year- old at yesterday's five-day declaration stage for the pounds 50,000-added event, in which he would have been aiming to emulate Sea Pigeon's back-to-back victories in 1977 and 1978.

But Lynda Ramsden has left in the 1995 scorer Top Cees, who would be the first horse to win twice in non-consecutive years this century if successful.

Only 16 horses remained in the two-and-a-quarter-mile handicap yesterday, after the non-declaration of 17 of the original entries. Notable acceptors include the Henry Cecil-trained Newbury winner Canon Can, third in the Cesarewitch last year, and The Flying Phantom (Mark Tompkins) who took third place behind Top Cees here two years ago.

The latest weapon in the war against dopers in British racing was revealed yesterday with the opening of the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory's new complex in Fordham, Cambridgeshire.

The need for the HFL to expand its operation meant a move from its old premises at Soham House in Newmarket, prompting the Levy Board to invest in a new purpose-built site.

In addition to a stable block, paddocks and a conference suite, the 35- acre complex houses state-of-the-art laboratories. Sir Thomas Pilkington, senior steward of the Jockey Club, said: "The laboratory will enable Britain to stay at the very forefront of horse-race forensic science.''