Racing: Reid picked for Selkirk

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JOHN REID has gained the ride on Selkirk in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, a race promising to be as enthralling as Reid's victory on Dr Devious in Ireland on Sunday.

Ian Balding, trainer of the champion miler, was forced to find a replacement for Selkirk after the colt's regular jockey, Ray Cochrane, was given a four-day suspension on Monday for excessive use of the whip which rules him out of the Ascot race on Saturday week.

Balding said: 'We're happy with John. He knows the horse well as he rode him in all his early races.' The trainer said Selkirk was in fine shape for his attempt to win the Group One contest for the second year in succession.

Bookmakers William Hill have taken Arazi out of the betting for Ascot as the French colt looks certain to miss the race. Arazi is taking time to recover from a tendon injury which forced him to miss his comeback race at Longchamp 10 days ago. Francois Boutin, Arazi's trainer, is understood to have shelved plans to run Arazi in either the Prix du Prince d'Orange at Longchamp on Sunday or La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte the following day.

Hills have cut Selkirk to 2-1 favourite for the QEII, followed by Marling and Rodrigo De Triano both on 100-30, then 6-1 Second Set, 13-2 All At Sea, 8-1 Brief Truce and 14-1 others.

The perils of ante-post betting were emphasised, however, by a warning from Balding yesterday that his Lochsong, a heavily backed favourite for this Saturday's Ayr Gold Cup, might have his chances dashed if the going is soft at the Scottish track.

Already the winner of the Stewards' Cup and Portland Handicap this season, Lochsong is as low as 7-1 for the race. But the official advance going at Ayr is good to soft with soft patches and Balding admitted: 'It might cause problems. Willie (Carson) felt she might just not get the trip if the ground became too holding, but she seems to enjoy soft ground when running on it at home.'

With Carson unavailable - he rides Jahafil in the Irish St Leger - Balding confirmed that his 7lb claiming apprentice Francis Arrowsmith will now ride Lochsong.

Arrowsmith, 24 and with 15 wins to his credit, knows Lochsong better than anybody because he rides the filly on the gallops at Kingsclere. Martin Pipe has recognised his talents because he has put Arrowsmith up on eight winners for the stable.

'I'm not nervous at the moment, but I suppose I could get worried when Saturday arrives so I'm not going to even think it's the Ayr Gold Cup,' Arrowsmith said yesterday.

'Lochsong is a super ride to get. She's a hard puller, she almost pulls your arms out on the gallops, yet settles better on a racecourse. She pulls yet always finds a bit more towards the finish.'

Arrowsmith realises that much depends on the draw in the six- furlong race. Although high- drawn horses have won, low numbers usually have the advantage.

Betting on the race was understandably light yesterday although Ladbrokes, the race sponsors, reported interest in So Rhythmical, cutting him to 20-1 (from 25s) and Silca-Cisa now 25-1 (from 33s).

(Photograph omitted)