Celeric holds the whip hand in Gold Cup

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The Independent Online
While December is bad turkey month, ostriches meet their Waterloo in the run up to Royal Ascot. Inside news from our fashion department is that spectating may be hampered today by a forest of tall feathers. Outrageous millinery is the tradition for Ladies' Day, which, for the purist minority is also made notable by a race called the Gold Cup. Founded in 1807, the 2m 4f contest is notionally the centrepiece of the festival, though the times when it was a natural stopping-off point for a Derby winner finished at about the same time the Blitz started.

These days, the Gold Cup is a peculiarity in that few horses are ever tried over its stamina-drawing distance. This explains why many beasts have won it more than once. In recent years Le Moss, Ardross and Drum Taps have captured the event in consecutive seasons, and today Double Trigger and Classic Cliche attempt a second success. Their chances are slightly compromised as both finished last on their seasonal reappearances.

Double Trigger has had some organ-threatening assignments and it may be that his best days are in the form book. Classic Cliche is easier to forgive as his failure at York, when he was a long way behind Celeric, came when Godolphin's horses were running atrociously.

Celeric himself was repelled by Persian Punch at Sandown just over three weeks ago, when the winner received what jockeys call a forceful ride and horses may know as a flogging. Persian Punch returned with signs of battle on his chassis, but Ray Cochrane was absolved as trainer David Elsworth had failed to inform the rider of his horse's hypersensitive skin. This technical nicety may have been lost on Persian Punch. The chestnut should still run well however, though the revised weights suggest Celeric (next best 3.45) can continue his march through the grades.

The Ribblesdale, as usual, is dominated in the market by fillies who have come on from the Oaks. But if you are tempted to support Crown Of Light or Yashmak remember that Epsom horses have a nasty habit of turning turtle here and a more rewarding option may be Maid Of Camelot (2.30).

Hopping Higgins's connections will ensure he is a short price for the Norfolk Stakes and that may mean the value rests with Pool Music (3.05), whose Sandown defeat of Nadwah looks good after that filly won the Queen Mary yesterday.

It would be wrong to call the Cork And Orrery impossible because one runner has to win, but 25 horses storming up the straight lacks immediate punting appeal. The pace may come from those drawn middle to high, and the winner may be one coming fast from behind in that sector. Such a description fits LUCAYAN PRINCE (nap 4.20).

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