Racing: Tango can have the final word

THERE ARE various dates in the calendar when you can make a charlie of yourself. On 1 April the mischievous do it for you, but personal and thoughtless input often takes place on 14 February, anniversaries or mothers' birthdays.

The Saturday card joined to the Royal Ascot meeting also has beautiful options. There will be chaps turning up at today's meeting dress suited and booted when that gear should really be back tumbling through the dry- cleaning machines at Moss Bros.

Today is not the Royal meeting any more. It is the Heath card and it is not anything you can brag about attending over tiffin for the rest of the year. The strange relation stapled on to the end of the aristocratic meeting does not have the pomp of what has gone before. It does not possess the kudos and it certainly does not have the same calibre of horse.

There are four handicaps for consumption and the conditions races are for beasts not fit to run before The Queen. This, however, does not make the selection of winners any easier.

Volume though is available today, and if armchair punters don't make it at Ascot there are another seven televised contests spread between Redcar and Ayr and eight more at Lingfield and Southwell on Sky.

If a single thrust is needed the best opportunity seems to lie at the very beginning of the broadcast fest. John Gosden is the notorious Rip Van Winkle of the Flat season, whose first alarm call seems to come only in time for the Royal meeting. He has already struck twice this week and FINAL TANGO (nap 2.00) appears well capable of adding to the sequence.

The filly could have been tuning up for this at Goodwood last time, but even the most strident conspiracy theorist cannot have imagined the manner of her defeat. Frankie Dettori's mount looked sure to succeed until the driver dropped his whip and had to resort to slapping his vehicle down the neck. When palms crash today it is likely to be as the Italian returns to the winners' enclosure.

If the form we have recently witnessed is to mean anything then Taverner Society (next best 3.00), who was not far behind Chester House at Doncaster last time, should also play a part. Jimmy Too (2.30) will like the ground, as should Cardigan Bay (3.35).

n British raiders Prolix and Almutawakel, ridden by Pat Eddery and Frankie Dettori, take on five locals in tomorrow's Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp. Croco Rouge (Sylvain Guillot), the French Derby runner-up, Daymarti (Gerald Mosse), Limpid (Olivier Peslier), Angel Heart (Alain Junk) and Special Quest (Olivier Doleuze) complete the field for the 10-furlong Group One contest.

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