Racing: Cash for the new pride of Sha Tin

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The Independent Online
THERE COULD be only one jockey for the talking horse of Hong Kong and yesterday the connections of Indigenous got their man for tomorrow's King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Cash Asmussen, the rider who could make an onion cry with his tales of tribulation on the racecourse, has been booked for the horse who will become the first animal from the former colony to run in these islands.

Cash, at 37, still talks as fast as he ever did, though there are those who doubt his mounts are quite as speedy these days. Nevertheless, the man from South Dakota can still get the job done on a good horse. He comes in for the ride because Indigenous's regular partner, Douglas Whyte, is recovering from an appendix operation. Michael Kinane and Gary Stevens were considered by the six-year-old's trainer, Ivan Allan, but both were unavailable. It was time to call for Cash.

"I've never ridden for Ivan but I know him on a friendly basis and I'm excited about the ride," Asmussen said yesterday. "I know something of the horse as I was in Hong Kong last December when Indigenous won and had Fruits Of Love [one of tomorrow's fancied runners] behind.''

That was in the Group Two Hong Kong International Vase at Sha Tin, when Indigenous was the first home-trained winner in the series of international races since 1993. Fruits Of Love was fifth and not far behind considering he had pulled up lame three days earlier.

Now the tables, at least the flight timetables, are turned, and Indigenous must campaign on Fruits Of Love's home territory. "It's the first time Indigenous has travelled abroad but he does have some nice form with the European horses," Asmussen said. "This race [the King George] is not on my list of achievements and it would be a great one to add.''

The contest will also be a high-class reconnaissance mission as Asmussen will be able to adjudicate on the merit of Oath, the Derby winner. He stands as the only obstacle between the French Derby winner Montjeu, another Asmussen ride, and middle-distance hegemony among Europe's Classic generation. "This is the first time the three-year-olds have taken on the older horses and it will be interesting to see how they shape up," Asmussen said. "Oath is a Derby winner, and you should never take anything away from them, but he did not beat Daliapour as easily as Montjeu [in the Irish Derby]. I don't think I'm being pretentious is saying that Montjeu is the better of the two." You Cash? Never.

You don't argue with Cash though, largely because he has threatened to thump broadsheet journalists before now, and you certainly don't argue with David Nicholls, who looks fierce, but, in reality, is a lot harder than that. Horses are obviously frightened of "Dandy" as well because they seem to run much better once they get in his company.

At Ascot this afternoon, he saddles Rudi's Pet, from whom he has conjured two victories this year. This is no mean feat considering the gelding's former lodging was with Lynda Ramsden. Nicholls has also provided the alchemy with another contestant in the sprint Cryhavoc, but Rudi's Pet (next best 3.15) deserves the vote.

Kamareyah (2.15) should also win unless there is a rocket amongst the newcomers, while there are seductive qualities too about LEGEND OF LOVE (nap 2.45). He was sixth but beaten only about two lengths at Chester last time. It's time to get the money back.

KING GEORGE VI & QUEEN ELIZABETH STAKES (Ascot, tomorrow): William Hill: 5-2 Oath, 3-1 Daylami, 9-2 Daliapour & Fruits Of Love, 8-1 Silver Patriarch, 10-1 Nedawi, 16-1 Indigenous, 20-1 Sunshine Street.