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Celeric shows his Cup credentials; Patience proves a virtue as John Dunlop's seven-year-old stayer recaptures best form.

SAGARO STAKES

Celeric signalled that he will be a serious threat to all in the Cup division this year when benefiting from a peach of a ride by Richard Quinn to land the Group 3 Insulpak Sagaro Stakes, writes Neil Morrice.

Coral reacted by shaving his Ascot Gold Cup price from 20-1 to 8-1.

By his high standards 1998 was not a vintage year, but this performance suggests Celeric has retained all the ability which earned him the Ascot Gold Cup and Yorkshire Cup two seasons ago for for the late David Morley.

After Quinn - replacing the suspended Pat Eddery - had employed the patience of Job to wait for a gap in a packing field before pouncing inside the distance, the seven-year-old's trainer John Dunlop suggested that a change of plan could be in the offing.

He said: "Everyone knows that Celeric needs to be held up right until the last minute. This was the first time Richard had ridden him, but he did it perfectly and I think this two miles is undoubtedly his best trip.

"We felt that the plan would include the Henry II Stakes at Sandown, but now we might have a rethink and go for the Yorkshire Cup again, depending on the ground being on the faster side at York, where he's always hard to beat.

"Then again, if we had to miss both those races because of unsuitable ground, at least we've got a run under his belt and the Gold Cup is obviously the main objective."

Dunlop admitted that it had taken him a while to get to know the ins and outs of the Mtoto gelding, a point muted by part owner Christopher Spence, who said: "Last season was a difficult one for the horse because John needed to get to know him and Celeric had to get used to Castle Stables.

"This year, John has done a bit more with him and it's wonderful to see him right back to his best."

The rags-to-riches story of 5,500gns purchase Shaya continued when Giles Bravery's entry finished a gallant second. Bravery will now aim Shaya at the Melbourne Cup in November via the Ascot Gold Cup.

The Gold Cup is also on the agenda for Spirit Of Love , who did himself no favours by swinging wide into the straight and taking two rivals with him.

His Middleham trainer Mark Johnston said: "I wasn't disappointed with him and another half mile in the Gold Cup will make a huge difference."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Morrice, Neil
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 29, 1999
Words:417
Previous Article:Insinuate lives up to promise; REST OF ASCOT.
Next Article:Lesser lights hog limelight; EXETER.


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