His mantle as the most celebrated stayer in the land has been taken by Celeric, who also has a transport connection. His trainer had a car tyre named after him. It had appeared Celeric's career was dribbling to a halt after transfer to John Dunlop's stable, but the old horse, under threat of blinkers being applied, burst back into life in the Lonsdale Stakes at York last time out. The seven-year-old returns to Town Moor after an absence of three years, since Double Trigger beat him in the Doncaster Cup, for this afternoon's renewal.
On Knavesmire form he is a deserved favourite but there remains a doubt whether he can reproduce that performance. "I am never confident in Celeric, but the opposition is not strong and if he can be produced to show the same form he showed at York I am very hopeful," Dunlop said yesterday.
His rivals are indeed chequered. The Irish-trained San Sebastian won the Ascot Handicap at the Royal meeting last year and the Queen Alexandra Stakes this, but needs Pony Express distances. His trainer, Michael Grassick, is praying for rain, as is Barry Hills, the man behind Rainbow High. Far Cry won the Northumberland Plate last time out, but to listen to Martin Pipe you wonder why he is running at all. "It's asking a lot of Far Cry," the trainer said. "It's a big step up in class."
Ta-Lim has some sort of chance on Goodwood Cup form, but it is hard to get away from the horse which finished behind him that day but has since restored his reputation. Stick with Celeric (3.10).
The Park Stakes will also have a short-priced favourite in Touch `N' Fly. However, he appeared to struggle momentarily at Salisbury last time before pulling clear. That was drab opposition and today's is different.
Muhtathir (next best 2.05) has been tried against exotic opposition in exotic locations and in June was not beaten far in the Yasuda Kinen, a Japanese Group One at Tokyo. Frankie Dettori's decision to ride him is a positive factor.
The best bet of the day though is in the last televised race, the nursery. FRENCH FELLOW (nap 3.40) carries top weight and deserves it. He was brought virtually to a standstill at Newcastle last time, but still claimed second place. His form ties in well with several others in the race and he runs off the same mark here. Get on.
Nap: French Fellow
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