Trip To Paris takes Gold for Lee
Newmarket-based Ed Dunlop, enhancing his reputation as a trainer of stayers, won today’s Gold Cup with Trip To Paris.
The Graham Lee-ridden winner, a 12/1 shot, won with something in hand, scoring by one and a quarter lengths and a neck from Kingfisher and the 5/2 favourite Forgotten Rules. Victory for Dunlop followed that of his father, John, who trained Ragstone to win Royal Ascot’s oldest race in 1974.
Trip To Paris, who is only four, is owned by La Grange Partnership. He was bought by Dunlop at Tattersalls in Newmarket for the relatively small sum of 20,000gns, at a two-year-old breeze-up sale, a type of auction suited to speedy juveniles and rarely a source of horses with Gold Cup pretensions. He looks a successor to his stablemate, nine-year-old Red Cadeaux, a famous traveller who has been second in three Melbourne Cups and who has won nearly £5m in prize money.
Dunlop, whose runner was supplemented for the Gold Cup by his owners at a cost of £35,000, said: “It’s a helluva story and credit must go to the owners. Those who know me know I’m not the most adventurous when it comes to stumping up £35,000, particularly when I own a bit of the horse. He ran very well in the King George V Handicap here last year, but we felt he might have the right turn of foot and temperament to be a stayer. At Ripon he won a trial for Chester [over two miles] and then he won the Chester Cup, and I thought he was a little unlucky at Sandown [when second] when they went very slow and sprinted.
“Graham Lee has been a big part of this – I thought it was a great ride, although I was bemoaning him going around the outside for a bit until he sensibly got to the inside rail where he quickened well.
“He’s made phenomenal progress this season – he was on a mark of 88 at the start of the season and ran in last year’s Shergar Cup, where the jockey was run away with and made the running. Then he was a bit disappointing and we gelded him and put him away. He’s won four of six this year and is one of the most improved horses in training.
“His owners are all very sporting and put up with me – some have been with me since the start. There are seven of us in the partnership.”
Asked where the Gold Cup win ranks in his career, Dunlop said: “Near the top. It’s an incredible day, and one of my greatest days as a trainer. My father and mother had the Gold Cup on their dining table, so to actually win it is a dream come true. I was always brought up by my parents to regard the Gold Cup as the highlight of this meeting. It’s been a difficult season for my staff, so to win this turns it all around.
“The guy leading him up today is Steve Nicholson, who also looks after Red Cadeaux, and until today he always said, ‘he [Trip To Paris] is not coming on the same plane as Cadeaux’, but after today we’ll see. The Australians, the clever ones, said you ought not be running in the Gold Cup because you’ll spoil his mark for the Melbourne Cup, but I think his owners will want to do it now. Why not?
“He’s a stayer that can really quicken – he was unlucky in the Rosebery Handicap [over 11 furlongs in March] earlier this year, so he’s got a turn of foot.
Andrew White, a financial advisor and member of La Grange Partnership, said of the winner: “He was good at two and three, but this year he’s just been on the up and up. It’s hard to describe.
“This race featured in a half-hearted discussion at lunch before the Chester Cup – even until last Friday we didn’t know for sure what we were going to do, but here we are. It’s a syndicate and we’re all in it for the fun, and we’re having fun now. We’ve had offers to sell him, but decided to stick with him. Let’s enjoy the moment and think about Melbourne later.”
When jockey Graham Lee, 39, moved codes from National Hunt to the Flat, it would have taken considerable foresight to predict that he would ride the winner of a Group One at Royal Ascot. His victory today in the Gold Cup aboard the Ed Dunlop-trained Trip To Paris was his first Royal Ascot success – and his first Group One.
Lee’s big wins as a jump jockey included the 2004 Grand National with Amberleigh House and the 2005 Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with Inglis Drever. He switched to the Flat in April, 2012. Last season he finished third in the Flat jockeys’ championship with 129 winners.
He said: “The second I got legged up on him in the parade ring I knew he was going to run well. He was asleep, he went to post asleep. He was relaxed all the time, conserving energy. The race went well and happy days. Thank the man above, everything went good.
“I had a look when I turned in where I was going to go and there was a gap down the rail. He has picked up good and he deserved this.
“They supplemented this guy for a lot of money [£35,000], so fair dues to the sporting connections for doing that.”
When asked whether this ranked higher than his Grand National victory, Lee said: “That’s an awful question – I’ve had a great day in the office. It’s lovely to ride a winner here, a Group One as well.”
Dermot Weld felt 5/2 favourite Forgotten Rules may not have stayed after he finished a creditable third in the Gold Cup behind the winner Trip To Paris. The son of Nayef was cantering under jockey Pat Smullen turning into the home straight and took the lead two furlongs out before finding no more in the closing stages.
Weld suggested that the two and a half mile trip may have been too far for the gelding. He said: “I think this distance is as far as he wants to go really. He has been a winner at two miles and I thought he probably just didn’t quite get home. He has still run a big race.
“He is significantly better on soft ground, he cruises on it and that is what he would have favoured today. With all that said, he ran all the way to the line and he has finished third in a Gold Cup.”
Kingfisher, trained by Aidan O’Brien was an eye-catching second, having met trouble in the home straight. Once he found daylight under hat-trick seeking Ryan Moore, the son of Galileo flew home to finish one and a quarter lengths behind winner Trip To Paris and a neck ahead of third, Forgotten Rules. O’Brien said: “He ran a great race so we have to be happy. We were just delighted with him.”
Simenon was running in his third consecutive Gold Cup and stayed on well to take fourth. His trainer Willie Mullins said: “It was great to come back a third year in a row and get some nice prize money. It is fantastic to get into the winner’s enclosure and he has run a fantastic race.”
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