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  Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
Epsom's weighing game
Epsom's clerk of the course Andrew Cooper with the old-style scales
Clerk of the course Andrew Cooper with the scales
BBC Sport Online's Frank Keogh reports from Epsom on preparations for the two-day Vodafone Derby meeting, which starts on Friday.

Epsom racecourse officials have solved a last-minute crisis which almost took pounds off the clerk of the course Andrew Cooper.

During tests on the all-important digital scales in the jockeys' weighing room, an error was detected, and no appropriate electronic replacement could be found.

The scales need to work on imperial measurement as jockeys, who must 'weigh out' and 'weigh in' before and after each race, are measured by stones and pounds rather than kilograms.

So Cooper had to arrange for old-style scales to be ferried in from Sandown racecourse, where he is also clerk of course.

"The electronic scales were installed in 1995. But one of the digital displays was not working, so we had to find a replacement. It just goes to show the scale of things we have to deal with."

No pun intended, of course.


Foreign assignment

The race to rule the country may have concentrated the minds of politicians on Thursday, but at least one cabinet minister is making plans for a day at the races afterwards.

It is understood Labour's Foreign Secretary Robin Cook will be attending the big meeting.

Cook is a massive racing fan, and will no doubt see the trip as ideal relaxation after four weeks of election campaigning.

He is not likely to need much guidance on who to back in the Derby on Saturday. Surely he will support Chancellor.

Feeling flush?

Racegoers who are caught short after a few drinks will have less cause for complaint this year.

As part of a drive to improve facilities on The Hill, an area of the Epsom Downs which is free for the public to enter, dozens more mobile toilets are being introduced.

The course is spending close to 70,000 on the loos, which are clearly marked with huge black and white banners.

But with the gents deemed just as important as the women, there are no plans to follow Royal Ascot and have a dedicated Ladies Day.

Morning glory

One of the features of Derby Day is the vast array of fashions on show, with each section of the course boasting its own style.

Male punters with tickets for the plush Queen's Stand must wear morning dress, including top hat, or military dress on Saturday 9 June, while ladies are required to wear formal day dress with hat.

Mens outfitters Moss Bros, in Epsom town centre, has been doing a steady last-minute hire trade to those who were too busy, or forgetful, to book in advance.

Yours truly was fortunate enough to pick up the last, and only one, in his slender size. After a spell in the dry cleaners, the tails and trousers could be heading for a bridegroom next week - I hope he's picked a winner.

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