Prescott hoping Pallasator will be on best behaviour at Royal Ascot
14 Jun 2016
Order of St George tops the 18 horses set for the Gold Cup In Honour of The Queen's 90th Birthday
The tallest horse in training will attempt to scoop the biggest staying prize in the calendar at Royal Ascot on Thursday.
Pallasator, trained by Sir Mark Prescott, features among a bumper final field of 18 revealed this morning for the Gold Cup In Honour of The Queen’s 90th Birthday.
Pallasator, who is 17.2 hands, won the Doncaster Cup last season and confirmed himself as among the best stayers around when giving weight and a beating to Suegioo and Max Dynamite, the Emirates Melbourne Cup runner-up, on his reappearance in the BetVictor Henry II Stakes at Sandown Park last month.
However, the seven-year-old, ridden by Oisin Murphy on that occasion, is also renowned for not being straightforward at home and can take plenty of humouring before his races.
Prescott is not so much worried by the opposition as the preliminaries, which he says will be crucial to his challenger’s prospects in the £400,000 contest, which forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series feature.
“It will be a horror show of some proportion, although he’s a bit more civilised than he used to be,” Sir Mark said. “Andrea [Atzeni] very kindly said last year when he won the Doncaster Cup that if his name was down to ride him every day he would not come into work!
“Last year we ran him at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions Day and there were seven photographers by the arch waiting for something dreadful to happen. It wasn’t pretty, but we all survived.”
Prescott, seeking a third Royal Ascot winner and his first since Pivotal won the King’s Stand Stakes 20 years ago, also mischievously recalled Atzeni riding Pallasator for the first time in the Irish St Leger in 2014.
“By the time the band struck up the second verse of the national anthem, with all those bagpipes, it was clear to me that he and Andrea had not bonded,” he said, smiling.
“People get confused by him. They see him so horrible before a race, but once he’s at the start and under way he’s perfect. It’s getting him from here (pointing to his left) to there (gesturing to his right). I’m sure Ascot will help all they can.”
Unlike some, Prescott has been delighted with all the rain that has fallen at the track this week and the 68-year-old will not mind any more. “He would not want it too firm, and as heavy as you like,” he said.
Murphy, who has succeeded Atzeni as Qatar Racing’s No 1 jockey, will resume the partnership and Prescott was delighted by the way way the pair bonded at Sandown. “He’s not everybody’s ride, but Oisin made it look as easy as possible,” he said.
Order Of St George is officially rated at least 8lb superior to all his rivals and is likely to start a short-priced favourite to provide Aidan O’Brien with a seventh Gold Cup success in the past decade. The record of his runners in the race since that time reads 1111217612, albeit Yeats provided four successive triumphs between 2006 and 2009.
As a four-year-old, Order Of St George is a year younger than when Yeats began his sequence and his lofty official rating of 124 means he is already rated superior to his former record-breaking stablemate, who was never given a mark higher than 122.
Order Of St George was a superb 11-length winner of the Palmerston House Estate Irish St Leger last September and tuned up for the biggest assignment of his career with an easy win at Leopardstown this month.
Scotland (sixth) and Mizzou (seventh) both ran in last year’s Gold Cup and are back for another crack. The latter dug deep to edge out Clever Cookie and Flying Officer in the Longines Sagaro Stakes at Ascot in April, when he also had Suegioo (fourth) and Burmese (fifth) behind.
Clever Cookie went one better at the expense of Curbyourenthusiasm next time in the Betway Yorkshire Cup.
Mille Et Mille and Kicky Blue, one-two in last year’s Qatar Prix du Cadran, plus Tiberian, seek to give France their first Gold Cup triumph since Westerner won in 2005, when the meeting was staged at York. The last French-trained Gold Cup winner at Ascot was Sagaro in 1977.
Fun Mac, third in the Prix du Cadran, also runs. Wasir, trained in Germany by Andreas Wohler, Sheikhzayedroad, The Twisler and Griraz complete the line-up.