Racing: Ascot turns on the water for Turtle: The royal course comes to the aid of the big-race favourite for whom support is evaporating

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The Independent Online
A WEEK that promises so much will not be denied its central performer by the conditions underfoot. Turtle Island will contest tomorrow's St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot even though the ground at the Berkshire track continues to turn against him.

The colt was a late absentee from the 2,000 Guineas after Peter Chapple-Hyam decided that the going was unsuitably fast at Newmarket. However, the Manton trainer insisted yesterday that Turtle Island will take his place in the line up for what promises to be the race of the meeting.

'He will definitely be there, we've got to run him and he'll run a big race,' Chapple-Hyam said. 'It was fast in France for their 2,000 Guineas and he ran well to be just beaten by Green Tune.

'At Newmarket it was very rough ground and I can't see it being like that at Ascot.'

Chapple-Hyam has also been given encouragement by the decision of the Ascot authorities to water the track. Sir Nicholas Beaumont, the clerk of the course, yesterday said: 'We plan to water all the course today and tomorrow. The going is good to firm.'

Nevertheless, support in the ante-post market for Turtle Island continues to evaporate. As low as 11-10 when a book was opened last Wednesday, he has drifted to a best-priced 13-8 with Ladbrokes.

While Turtle Island drifts, Distant View has attracted consistent support and was yesterday cut to 9-2 (from 6-1) by Ladbrokes.

The Criquette Head- trained Green Tune, who had been almost as unwanted by punters as Turtle Island, looks a better betting proposition now that Gerald Mosse has been asked to take over the ride from Olivier Doleuze. The latter has never ridden at Ascot, while Mosse did so well to win last year's Coronation Stakes for the same stable on Gold Splash.

Of the other outstanding performers this week, Lochsong will face a maximum of 16 opponents in Friday's King's Stand Stakes, while Vintage Crop has been installed 11-8 favourite by Ladbrokes to add Thursday's Gold Cup to his historic Melbourne Cup success and become the first Irish-trained winner of the race since Levmoss in 1969.

Only nine horses have been declared for the pounds 150,000 race and three of those - Morley Street, Corrouge and Oh So Risky - are better known as hurdlers. In contrast, one of the meeting's other staying events, the Queen Alexandra Stakes, has been well supported with 23 horses being declared. The two mile and six furlong race had been under threat of being turned into a 10 furlong handicap until a public outcry encouraged the Ascot authorities to reverse their decision.

Over the weekend Classic form on two continents was confirmed. Tabasco Cat added the third leg of the American Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, to his success in the Preakness Stakes. As in the Preakness, Go For Gin, the Kentucky Derby winner, was runner-up. Tabasco Cat had finished only sixth in Kentucky.

At Chantilly yesterday, East Of The Moon became the first since Madelia in 1977 to complete the double of the French fillies' Classics, the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and Prix de Diane with a hard fought win over Her Ladyship.

It was a fourth Prix de Diane success for her trainer, Francois Boutin, whose wife, Lucy, is the daughter of Tabasco Cat's owner, William Young.

(Photograph omitted)