In an ultra-competitive Tote Victoria Cup, Clive Cox is hopeful that a return to 7f could be just the ticket for his four-year-old River Nymph.
Last seen finishing down the field in the Lincoln, having ended the 2020 campaign in a similar position in Ascot’s Balmoral Handicap, it seems a mile is just not the gelding’s trip.
In the highlight of the Tote May Racing Weekend at Ascot, Cox is looking for a better showing dropped down in trip.
“I think it was encouraging the way that he won here last year and we were of the opinion that another furlong was worth a try, but it didn’t really work out,” Cox told Tote.
“In the Balmoral last year it came at a time when he’d been busy in the summer, so we forgave him that run, but in the Lincoln it was very obvious he didn’t last home. He’s a course and distance winner here over 7f and he won’t mind a bit of ease in the ground.”
Drawn 24 of 24, the son of Cable Bay will be right out on a wing as the gates open, but whether or not that’s a bad thing remains to be seen.
“The draw is going to be interesting, I don’t know how it’ll affect things. Obviously having a day’s racing on Friday and a lot of rain, theoretically it might not be a bad draw.“
Victory on Saturday would be yet another success for the family which includes three half-siblings trained to win by the Lambourn handler.
Out of Little Nymph, Cox has guided the likes of Little Palaver, Little Choosey and Little Rainow to triumph over the past decade.
“It’s been a wonderful family for us. Trevor Fox, the owner breeder gets a great deal of pleasure out of this.
“River Nymph’s a hore who has done us proud and he’s a rock solid performer and as the rest of the family have proven they’re just so reliable.”
Well bred newcomers among four others at Ascot
As well as River Nymph, Clive Cox is set to saddle five others across the two day Tote-sponsored meeting at Ascot.
They include juvenile’s Get Ahead, who makes her racecourse debut on Friday, and Mohi who was sixth on debut at Salisbury.
“Get Ahead is a very well bred filly. She’s a full sister to a Mill Reef winner [Alkumait] and we’re looking forward to getting her on track.”
“We like to have them educated enough that they are ready to go racing, but they will improve for a run, there’s no two ways about it.
“Mohi had a pleasing introduction at Salisbury and with the forecast being quite wet I hope he doesn’t mind that. He’s by Acclamation, and generally the Royal Applause line generally does give us an indication they can cope with this surface, so that’s the reason we’re running him. He’s got a nice pedigree and is a horse who we’ve been pleased with his physical development through the spring.”
Ascot Adventure who has had just one run for Cox having joined following a win first time up for Andrew Slattery in Ireland. Sent off favourite for a 5f contest at Lingfield, he could only manage fourth that day. But as he prepares to line up in the tote+ Pays You More Handicap (16:05) on Friday, his handler is hoping for better going forward.
“I was disappointed I ran him at Lingfield. It was one of those situations where he was a new recruit and we weren’t blessed with a lot of choice where we could get him started and it looked like an opportunity we could take, but he didn’t like the track at all.
“I’m pleased that we’ve got him on turf, a little bit of ease in the ground won’t hurt him and hopefully he’s a horse who continues to develop physically and can take a good step here and build on that as the season progresses.”
Perhaps his best chance of a winner on Friday comes in the form of the rapidly improving Bertie’s Wish who has won both starts on the all-weather since being gelded in the winter.
He switches back to turf in the tote+ Placepots Pay More Handicap at 16:40, and his handler is hopeful he’ll go on the ground.
“We found him a couple of very helpful slots on the all-weather. He’s got quite a keen way of going but he’s building his confidence as he progresses. He’s by Fast Company so I hope he can handle the conditions if it’s on the easy side,” Cox told Tote.
The Lambourn yard’s final runner of the Ascot meeting comes in the form of It’s Good To Laugh.
“It’s first time out for him so I do expect him to improve a little but he’s trained well, has had a long build up and done some good conditioning work. Conditions have been far drier than ideal for him recently so this is the first opportunity he’s had to run on an easier surface.
“He’s had a lengthy absence and while I’m happy he’s up together but he would potentially improve from this as well.”
Blood tests for Supremacy after Pavilion flop
Away from Ascot this weekend the Clive Cox team could be looking forward to an exciting summer with a trio of three-year-olds in particular.
One that does need to get back on track, though, is Supremacy. The Middle Park winner last term flopped badly on seasonal reappearance when well backed for the Pavilion Stakes.
Having undergone some tests, Cox is hopeful we’ll see him back to his best in the near future.
“It was very disappointing, he was clearly way below his expected performance. We’ve got a very minor reading on his blood that we’re hoping we can rectify. I don’t believe it’s anything that can’t be rectified but he’ll be in charge of those decisions as we move through the next few weeks.”
Diligent Harry, on the other hand shows no signs of slowing up, having scored on All Weather Championships Finals Day last time out.
“He’s been a really exciting performer in as much as he didn’t hit a racecourse until January this year, so he’s made enormous strides to get up to a rating of 105.
“He wouldn’t want any ease in the ground and we hope that’s an ingredient that would fall right for his progress. We had pencilled in the Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury at the end of next week. I’m pleased to see that once we get through the weekend things that look like they’re warming up and drying up a bit.
“He’s a horse with a great future, and the size and scope, and hopefully the fact that he’s been lightly raced up until this point will be very much rewarded.
Cox’s two-year-old Royal Ascot winner last summer, Nando Parrado might be set for a drop in class as he sheds his penalty for winning the Coventry Stakes, following a good fourth in the Greenham Stakes.
“It was a pleasing seasonal reappearance for him. We didn’t take a Guineas step with him as he would prefer a little bit of ease in the ground. He’s on track and we’re looking forward to having a nice summer with him.
“He’s lost his Group 2 penalty from winning the Coventry last year. With Covid and travel difficulties France isn’t an easy place to go at the moment so we’re keeping his options open. Having lost his penalty, there’s a possibility that we could go to the Heron Stakes at Sandown with him.”