Racing: Top-class Kooyonga

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The Independent Online
TWO furlongs is probably no more than the distance from your front door to the bus stop, but it can be enough to make the finest thoroughbred look like a jackass. And you, too, if your cash is nailed to its saddle.

Before the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown this afternoon, St Jovite will attract a quantity of money that would make even Howard Hughes dribble, but the punters providing it will deserve to have their cashpoint cards taken away. Over a mile-and-a-half, the Irish Derby and King George winner would be worth every penny of an odds-on price, but today's race is 10 furlongs, and he may never grasp what is happening.

We all take a little while to get going at the start of a day's work, but when the entire shift lasts two minutes it can cramp your style. In human terms, St Jovite needs a half-hour lie-in, a soak in the bath and four cups of coffee before he gets into gear, and that will leave his door wide open to a 10-furlong specialist. He might get away with it in ordinary company, but surely not when Kooyonga (4.30) is in the field; Michael Kauntze's filly will be passing the post when St Jovite is getting his wake-up call.

It will be work from the word go for the sprinters in Saturday's Ayr Gold Cup, a race which seems to inspire more affection among owners and trainers than any other sprint handicap in the calendar. Punters tend to love it and loathe it in equal portions (for which read, before and after).

Lochsong, winner of the Stewards' Cup and then the Portland Handicap last week, will be one of the shortest-priced favourites in the race's history, but her Doncaster success came from a very favourable draw and she will be fortunate indeed to be in a high stall again. Duplicity is a much more realistic price at around 16-1.

Earlier in the week, Glide Path (3.25) has possibilities at Sandown on Tuesday, while Camden's Ransom (3.20) should finally make it back to the winners' enclosure at the Esher course the following day.

Back at Ayr's Western meeting, which opens on Thursday, Richard Hannon's tough colt Night Melody (3.10) can land his eighth success. The following day Walimu (2.35) can gain compensation for an unlucky run at Sandown last month, while Tusky (4.05) will go close if refitted with a visor, which was left off at York last time.