Peslier so steady on Shake

ROYAL ASCOT: France's top rider is composed for the Coronation but Lucayan Prince needs persuasion to arrive for his big day
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The Independent Online
It was a scramble, but Shake The Yoke got there in the Coronation Stakes yesterday. Success, a late-gained success, for the French filly was yet further proof that Olivier Peslier has graduated to the top level of Europe's jockeys.

The Frenchman has but a dozen rides in Britain in his log yet he has already mastered the different discipline of riding within these shores. On the Continent, the tendency is to dawdle in the early stages, the jockeys whistling skywards before making a dart in the straight; here the runners go from the off as if a jaguar is crouched above the starting stalls. It all comes alike to Peslier. "It is no problem," the rider said. "I have ridden in Japan where they go very fast."

Such confidence would not have been shared by all Shake The Yoke's supporters (including one punter who staked pounds 10,000) as the filly swung into the straight with considerable ground to make up on the pacemaking Dance Design. Peslier's instincts were proved correct as the runners met the roar, his partner collecting the lead 100 yards out and repelling Last Second, who left her challenge as late as her name suggests.

The victory was also a triumph for Elie Lellouche, the winner's trainer, who legged up Peslier in preference to his regular rider, Dominique Boeuf. Boeuf had been criticised for rides on both Shake The Yoke in the French Guineas and Helissio in the Prix du Jockey-Club and was replaced for this mission. "It was a rap on the knuckles for him," Lellouche said through an interpreter.

A similar admonishment should be delivered to anyone who ignores the Chantilly trainer's runners in Britain. He has now saddled six runners for a 50 per cent strike-rate.

While Shake The Yoke was a popular winner as an even-money favourite, the day began with the sort of results that have punters climbing out on to window ledges. The winners of the first two events could not be found in the form book, though they would have been obvious to scholars of the greatest book of all. The last shall be first was the sentiment as both Lucayan Prince and Dance Parade gave their rivals a head start before pouncing in the final furlong.

Lucayan Prince was sent off a 50-1 shot for the Jersey Stakes, which were outrageous odds for a runner from David Loder's yard. In normal times there would a shorter price if the Newmarket man saddled his oven, but this has been a spring of discontent at Sefton Lodge.

An undetectable virus is still squatting at Loder's stables, invisibly infecting the string. "In February the horses looked magnificent, they were in great form, training well, but then in March I just watched them go off the boil," he said. "The horses looked 100 per cent, scoped 100 per cent and blood-tested 100 per cent but it wasn't working in the races. Some of them still have it."

It might be safe to assume that Lucayan Prince has recuperated. However, he has other problems. A horse of consummate brilliance on the gallops, his racecourse displays suggested he had skis clamped to each leg. Yesterday changed all that. "The horse has shown a tremendous amount of ability ever since he was a two-year-old," Loder added. "But he is a difficult ride."

The riding performance of Richard Hughes was therefore greeted by the number of bouquets to which Elizabeth Taylor is accustomed. The Irishman's patience appeared a complex model of how to persuade a thoroughbred home, but Hughes himself had a more rustic explanation for his mount's success. "I just gave him three smacks around the backside as hard as I could and away we went," he said. "He hadn't much chance to stop then."

Dance Parade was a more fathomable proposition in the Queen Mary Stakes as she started at 8-1, but as she was one of three runners from Paul Cole's yard, and not the most fancied, the air was hardly thick with top hats. The Whatcombe trainer's stable survived a thunderous storm two weeks ago, when Cole was perhaps the least troubled by the tempest. "I was a little worried, but I'd just finished a half bottle of wine so that took the edge off it," he said.

Dance Parade scooted away from her more fancied stablemate, More Silver, the favourite. Cole was not hugely surprised by this lacklustre offering as More Silver had been breathing irregularly at home, despite returning satisfactory tests. "I was tempted to take her out but I couldn't find a reason," he said. Punters would not have been in distress to be in receipt of this information.

Nevertheless, this was a training achievement of some merit from Cole, who also saddled the runner-up Dame Laura and who has now captured all five Royal Ascot juvenile events.

William Haggas has some way to go to match that, but the Derby-winning trainer recorded his first Royal meeting success when Yeast made virtually all in the Royal Hunt Cup.

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