Racing / Royal Ascot: Cup stimulates Arcadian's appetite: Europe's premier prize for stayers is won at handsome odds by a reformed character taking his third bite at the cherry

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The Independent Online
ARCADIAN HEIGHTS, previously famous only for his carnivorous tendency, achieved a more permanent place in racing history here yesterday by winning the Gold Cup at the third attempt. Geoff Wragg's gelding held off Vintage Crop, the Melbourne Cup winner and hot favourite, by three quarters of a length, with another seven back to the also-rans.

It was a strange race, which suited a very strange horse. Out of the stalls with two and a half miles ahead of them, the prospect of setting a serious pace did not appeal to any of the nine jockeys, and Arcadian Heights grabbed the lead almost by default. The crawl continued almost until the six-furlong pole, when Cash Asmussen, riding My Patriarch, shot to the front and kicked for home.

The problem, as My Patriarch's backers no doubt realised, was that John Dunlop's colt was a doubtful stayer, while he has also been known to stop when sent to the front too soon. Sure enough, he dropped away tamely in the straight, but Arcadian Heights was galvanised by his attentions and went on once more. Michael Kinane, riding Vintage Crop, set off in pursuit, but his cause was clearly lost with a furlong to run. And there was no sign of the fearsome temperament which once caused Arcadian Heights to try to bite another runner - a trait that disappeared when he was gelded.

'They sort of half gave him the race by letting him make his own pace,' Wragg said. 'And then when Cash took over, our's started up again. It was like going into another race, he loved it.' Michael Hills, the winning jockey, concurred. 'I was so pleased when he came and took it off me, because I could get re-organised again,' he said. 'I took two or three lengths off them turning into the straight, and then I knew it was going to take a stayer and a good horse to come and get me.'

Dermot Weld, trainer of Vintage Crop, was generous in defeat (more so, perhaps, than the punters who sent off the Melbourne Cup winner at 11- 10). 'They went very slow and he'd have preferred a better gallop,' he said, 'but let's take nothing away from the winner. It'll happen that you just meet a horse that on the day runs the race of his life. That's what the winner did today.'

Asmussen's explanation for his decision to rush My Patriarch to the head of affairs was simple: he had no choice. 'I couldn't hold him any more, I was taking the shoes off the other horses,' he said. 'When I pulled him out he just took off. My only hope was that he might idle in front like he usually does, but he didn't do any idling today.'

The pace was considerably stronger in the Norfolk Stakes, which provided Jack Berry with his first Royal Ascot winner after a series of attempts which stretches back further than the trainer can remember. Mind Games, who won the first juvenile race of the turf season on it's opening day at Doncaster, was the horse who succeeded where such as Paris House and Distinctly North had failed.

'He's very fast, but he's also got the right attitude,' Berry said. 'He'll plod away forever until you press the button, but then he plays all the right tunes.'

Berry believes that, now that his stable has broken its duck, his next Royal Ascot winner may not be long in coming. Mind Games himself might even be the sort for the Cork and Orrery Stakes next year, in which three-year-olds have a good record. Owington continued the trend yesterday and may now attempt to follow up in the July Cup.