Weather worries for Bago team

Connections of the Jonathan Pease-trained Bago are hoping the ground does not turn tacky ahead of the European champion’s crack at Sunday’s Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

Connections of the Jonathan Pease-trained Bago are hoping the ground does not turn tacky ahead of the European champion’s crack at Sunday’s Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

A brilliant winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October, Bago failed to cope with gluey conditions at the Curragh last month when coming off second-best to Grey Swallow.

“Last night there was a massive thunderstorm in the Paris area and 19 millimetres of rain fell at Saint-Cloud, which has put the ground on the soft side of good,” Alan Cooper, racing manager for the Niarchos family, told At The Races.

“Providing we have no more thunderstorms between now and Sunday, the ground should be riding good.

“He likes the track at Saint-Cloud and he has won a Group One there. I think the track and the trip will suit him well as a prep for the King George.”

Cooper blamed Bago’s defeat in Ireland last month solely on the ground, despite the Nashwan colt having winning form on softer ground in his native country.

“I was disappointed that there had been two heavy showers of rain in the last few hours before the race,” said Cooper.

“When we looked at the ground at midday it was very suitable for Bago, but it became rather sticky just before the race and he can’t use his acceleration on that sort of ground as he can on good ground.

“He has won on heavy, but when it is sticky it blunts his acceleration.”

Bago is a general 7-1 chance for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, and targets beyond the Newbury race have yet to be decided.

“We tend to take it race by race and we would like to go to the Breedes’ Cup later on. We will see after the King George whether we go Arc or Breeders’ Cup,” added Cooper.

Bago will face 10 rivals in this weekend’s mile-and-a-half Group One contest, including Coronation Cup first and second Yeats and Alkaased.

The former was allowed an easy lead at Epsom and the one-time Derby hope galloped on strongly under Kieren Fallon to take the first prize by two and a half lengths.

Alkaased, though, was settled towards the back of the field and despite making up an enormous amount of ground down the home straight, could not get to Yeats.

“In a slowly-run race the worst thing that you can do is be out the back, because when the sprint starts you are coming from five or six lengths off the pace, “ said trainer Luca Cumani.

“He did so well getting as close as he did.”

Alkaased was ridden that day by Jimmy Fortune, but will be partnered in France by Frankie Dettori.

Commenting on the switch, Cumani said: “The owners were keen for Frankie to ride if he was available, and he was because Godolphin don’t have a runner.”

Reefscape was a further three lengths behind Alkaased at Espom and will renew rivalry, while Geordieland and Policy Maker – first and fifth respectively in last month’s Grand Prix de Chantilly – will take their chance.

Australian raider Elvstroem will have what is expected to be his final start in Europe after finishing third in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal meeting.

Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, Paddy Power bet: 5-4 Bago, 7-2 Yeats, 7-1 Alkaased, 8-1 Policy Maker, 10-1 Geordieland, 12-1 Reefscape, Voix Du Nord, 14-1 Elvstroem, 40-1 Mister Conway, 200-1 Imago Mundi, Needle Rock.

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