QE ii Cup still clear as mud after draw
The tactical Rubik's Cube of the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Sunday remains unsolved after the barrier draw left the possible speed runners drawn widest and dealt confusion to some of the best local hopes.
Classy Aidan O'Brien-trained four-year-old Treasure Beach looked the only logical leader and that was still the case after the Irish visitor drew the outside of the 13 runners. How the horse's connections respond to the widest alley, at a start that virtually begins on a turn, will now hold the key to any hopes of even a fair tempo.
'You draw what you draw,' O'Brien's representative, James Kinane, said. 'Aidan will decide what the horse does from there.'
Despite such an awkward 2,000m starting point, only three winners this century have drawn inside barier six, but the beneficiaries of yesterday's draw looked to be the Mike De Kock-trained Viscount Nelson (barrier four) and the David Ferraris-trained Sweet Orange (two).
The latter has been beaten in contentious circumstances in the Classic Cup and Derby from wide barriers and now is drawn to be wherever jockey Weichong Marwing wants him on Sunday.
'I'm very happy,' said Marwing. 'He was due for a change of luck at the gates. He's certainly got the gate speed to race much handier and, for a change, he won't be doing it so hard.'
Viscount Nelson has been racing from the rear in five starts in Dubai since joining De Kock, several from outside gates including his late-finishing third in the Godolphin Mile last start.
However, he raced more forward when previously trained by O'Brien and De Kock's assistant, Trevor Brown, flagged the possibility of being handier to the pace from a low draw.
'There's not much pace in the race so, with the short straight, we want to sit a little closer than usual, although he doesn't have the toe to be very prominent early, even if we wanted to,' Brown said.
Regular backrunners California Memory (barrier 10), Thumbs Up (11) and Pure Champion (nine) drew out, while Douglas Whyte might be asked to reprise his Derby-winning 'press on' tactics on the John Size-trained Fay Fay from gate 12.
'In some ways, it looks a carbon copy of the Derby - a race with no pace and a wide draw,' Whyte said. 'In the Derby it all worked out well, but you don't often get that twice and the barrier does look awkward.
'Maybe if Treasure Beach does go forward from the outside, then we might be able to go forward together, but John and I will have to have a proper think about it.'
Carlos Laffon-Parias, Chinchon's trainer, said barrier one was not ideal for a horse which gets back in his races, though he still preferred it to 13, while connections of Japanese raider Rulership have been at pains to ride him quietly early in recent outings to ensure he relaxes.
'Not good,' was his jockey Umberto Rispoli's initial reaction to barrier eight.
'Barriers three, four, five and eight were left and we got the worst. I will have to discuss with the trainer what we will do.
'My thinking is I want to jump well and take a position behind the speed - I do not think the pace will be fast, I don't see many front runners.'