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Blinkers a future option for Celeric.

CELERIC, whose hold on public affection is hanging by a thread, is one race away from the ultimate insult-blinkers.

If the popular seven-year-old fails to put his best foot forward in today's Group 3 Weatherbys Insurance Lonsdale Stakes at York, his next run is likely to be with the blinds.

After opening the season with success in the Insulpak Sagaro Stakes at Ascot in April, Celeric was well beaten behind Arctic Owl in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown, ran a respectable fourth in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, but then disappointed in the Goodwood Cup.

John Dunlop, admitting that Celeric has become a rather in-and-out performer, said yesterday: "We've been toying with the idea of applying blinkers but have decided not to.

"We worked Celeric in blinkers and it didn't appear to make a lot of difference, but if he runs disappointingly at York, we may resort to them next time."

Dunlop added: "Celeric has never been a good worker at home, but he is a horse who shows his well-being with a lot of bucking and kicking, and he has been in tremendous spirits all year."

The Arundel trainer is double-handed, with the improving Kahtan weighted to confirm his defeat of Generosity in a rated stakes at Chester last month, but Dunlop warned that heavy rain could lead to Kahtan's withdrawal.

Richard Hills, Kahtan's pilot, added: "I would not want the ground too soft. He stays really well, and for a big horse he handled the turns at Chester well, but he should be better suited to York."

Arctic Owl, the likely favourite, won the Group 3 Henry II Stakes in May, beating today's rivals Rainbow High, Maridpour, Celeric and Canon Can, and he will not be inconvenienced by cut in the ground.

Trainer James Fanshawe said: "I'm glad the rain has come. This is his ground. He stays well, and although we don't do much with him at home, he's in good shape. He ran well when runner-up to Craigsteel on ground plenty fast enough for him last time [in the Princess of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket], and he likes York."

Maridpour lines up for another crack at Arctic Owl on the back of a victory in the Group 3 IAWS Curragh Cup, but serious softening of the track could damage the four-year-old's chances. Sir Michael Stoute said: "He won nicely at The Curragh, but too much rain would be disadvantageous."

Gary Stevens added:

"Maridpour is very tough and a nice horse to ride because he can be ridden from the front or from behind. He must have a chance."

Rainbow High, despite a disappointing run in the Ascot Gold Cup, is an improving stayer from Barry Hills's yard. His curriculum vitae this year includes a victory over Generosity in the Chester Cup and a narrow defeat by Arctic Owl in the Henry II Stakes.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Ashforth, David
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 17, 1999
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