Racing: Trainglot can retire with long-distance distinction

Jimmy Fitzgerald has not had the best of seasons, but the travails of the winter months will be immediately erased if one result goes his way at Ascot today. Trainglot, who has been not so much a servant but an entire chain gang at the Norton Grange stables, retires this afternoon, and the Irish trainer says he will be happier than the men behind the Grand National winner if the old horse can go out successfully in the Letheby & Christopher Long Distance Hurdle.

It has proved to be a bountiful month for Fitzgerald's local tissue man in Yorkshire. At the Cheltenham Festival, another of the yard's permanent fixtures, Uncle Ernie, was allowed to stand down after collecting the Grand Annual Chase. His swollen scrapbook includes two wins on the Flat for Lynda Ramsden, 14 wins from 49 efforts over hurdles and fences, and over pounds 200,000 in prize-money.

Trainglot (3.10) will have generated even more earnings if he can dispose of four rivals this afternoon. The little horse (he possesses the size and scope not far removed from the beast you see on wooden runners in an infant's nursery) gained the first of his notable wins in 1990, when he captured the Cesarewitch in the hands of another who has lost the arm- wrestle with anno Domini, Willie Carson. Trainglot also finished fourth in an Ascot Gold Cup and, like Uncle Ernie, stamped his impression on National Hunt racing's greatest stage by winning last year's Coral Cup.

Another animal with wrinkles, Storm Alert (next best 2.35), should capture the preceding race at Ascot. Bertone will finish second.

The obvious choice for the card's opener is Serious, who won despite blowing up on the run-in at Uttoxeter last time. However, it may be worth taking a chance with DANCING PADDY (nap 2.00), who was unwilling to change his vaulting technique when switched to fences from hurdles and who returns to the flimsier obstacles.

Coming away from the races with anything other than spherical denominations in your pocket is difficult enough, but today offers the opportunity to get rid of funds even if you happen to be ahead at Ascot. A Partnership Parade between the fourth and fifth races, and again between the fifth and six, will give punters the chance to get involved in the most proficient money-gobbling device the good Lord ever sent among us, the racehorse. Prices range from pounds 150 for membership of a racing club with an interest in several horses, up to pounds 6,500 for a quarter share in a chaser at Kim Bailey's Upper Lambourn yard should the champagne-affected become involved this afternoon.

In the Dom Perignon world of the Flat, Desert King attempts to notch the name of O'Brien once again on the scroll for the Gladness Stakes at the Curragh this afternoon. In the old days, it was as natural as pulling on his pants in the morning for Vincent to win this race and now his unrelated namesake Aidan tries to continue the Ballydoyle hegemony.

Desert King was one of six horses supplemented for the Derby this week, alongside the likes of stablemate Johan Cruyff and the champion British juvenile, Revoque. After the latter's owner, Robert Sangster, had forked out pounds 8,000 to add his colt to the field, Peter Chapple-Hyam, his trainer, piped up with the cheery news that he was unsure whether Revoque would stay the Derby distance.

"It's hard to say whether he'll get the trip," Chapple-Hyam said yesterday. "I know he will stay a mile and a quarter but whether he will get a mile and a half nobody knows. He's got plenty of speed, but his sire, Fairy King, sired the Arc winner Helissio so he can get horses that stay."

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