Senor El Betrutti calls for a large portion of objectivity

Chris Corrigan on a cautionary tale for punters who follow fashion
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The Independent Online
Boil up a fixation with big-name trainers, add some cold-shoulder for a little-known yard, stir in a dash of male chauvimism, and we have the basic ingredient for Senor El Betrutti's recent 66-1 win at Ascot.

Had the names of ''M Pipe'' or ''D Nicholson'' appeared alongside the grey's place on the racecard, the odds could have been in single figures. But the trainer's name is Mrs S Nock.

It was enough to induce stupor in the betting ring at Ascot on 16 December and Senor El Betrutti, the rank outsider in a field of eight, made all the running to beat the Martin Pipe-trained 7-2 joint-favourite Cha- llenger Du Luc by six lengths.

Tomorrow the novice steeplechaser is due to run at Wetherby, enabling punters to display overdue objectivity towards the skills of Susan Nock.

''The odds were ridiculous'', is her reaction. ''The win wasn't out of the blue. People had only to look at his form - a year earlier he had won by eight lengths over hurdles at Windsor.''

A number of race-watchers remarked how impressive he was in that well- contested race. At that time, though, Senor El Betrutti was being trained at the fashionable yard of Charlie Brooks. Since then, the grey has joined the Nock's family operation just outside Stow-on-the-Wold.

The horse has been owned thoughout by Susan's husband, Gerard. Last year, after considerable success with point-to-pointers, his wife turned to a bigger league, so the grey ''came home'', along with three others, including Cool Runner, formerly trained by David Nicholson. Cool Runner won for his new yard at Worcester in November - at odds of 16-1.

Senor El Betrutti disappointed in several races prior to his Ascot win, but that was because of soft going he hates. His appearance tomorrow in the pounds 20,000 Towton Novice Chase at Wetherby depends on the ground there, yesterday described as good to soft.

''I'll be talking to Graham Bradley [the horse's regular partner] before deciding to run or not,'' Susan Nock said yesterday. ''It would be his first time over three miles, he's got an 8lb penalty and he's best on good ground, so we have to think about it.''

The Nocks had pounds 10 each-way at 66-1 at Ascot. Wherever Senor El Betrutti runs next, such misguided generosity is unlikely to be found again.