Golden run by Celeric
EVEN for a man whose ability to keep his nerve under pressure is legendary, Pat Eddery still produced one of the rides of the season to win yesterday's Ascot Gold Cup on Celeric.
On a horse whose inclination once he hits the front is to pull up, Eddery managed to thread Celeric through most of the two and a half mile trip without much effort before pouncing in the last 200 yards to deprive the gallant Classic Cliche of a second successive victory in the race.
It was Eddery's first Gold Cup success since winning on Erimo Hawk in 1972 and the champion jockey savoured Celeric's success. "I went out with so much confidence because the owner (Christopher Spence) and the trainer (David Morley) left it all up to me. In the straight I could feel my horse going so easily and I just tracked Classic Cliche through," Eddery beamed.
He made it sound easy but Spence, who also bred Celeric, was under no illusions. "Pat gave him a brilliant ride. This has been the most exciting moment of my life by miles - I'm speechless and I've only just stopped crying!" he said.
Although it must have been frustrating to see their horse beaten, having looked a winner on the turn in, Godolphin were delighted with Classic Cliche's return to form.
"It's great to see him back to his best. He enjoyed his racing today and, coming into the straight, I thought it was just a question of how Tar he would win," said Godolphin spokesman Simon Crisford.
Aidan O'Brien came agonisingly close to saddling his second two year old winner of the meeting when Hopping Higgins, owned by Irish soccer international Niall Quinn's Sporting Quest Racing Club, was just touched off in the Norfolk Stakes by the 33 to 1 outsider Tippitt Boy.
Ridden by Michael Kinane, Hopping Higgins was always prominent but just failed to hold off Tippett Boy's late challenge which gave Lambourn trainer Kevin McAuliffe his first Royal Ascot winner. "This is the best day of my life and in my heart of hearts I'm not surprised by this although, on form, you couldn't have fancied him," McAuliffe said.
O'Brien's Catch The Blues ran a fine race to be third to Royal Applause in the Cork And Orrery Stakes, the second year running she has been placed in the event.
However, the filly never quite looked like getting to grips with the pace forcing Royal Applause, who gave jockey Michael Hills only one moment of worry when veering left under pressure close to the line.
Kieren Fallon had an armchair ride on Yashmak in the Ribblesdale Stakes but his chances of ending the meeting as leading rider diminished when Frankie Dettori won the Chesham Stakes on Central Park for Paul Cole and followed up with Heritage for John Gosden in the King George V Handicap.