By Simon Jackson at Royal Ascot.
Ed Dunlop was second in the Melbourne Cup three times with Red Cadeaux and may have the chance to go one better with Trip To Paris who won the Gold Cup at Ascot on Thursday.
The four-year-old was held up for the bulk of the journey before improving on the run-in to lead at the furlong under former jumps jockey Graham Lee who won the 2004 Grand National on Amberleigh House.
The Ed Dunlop-trained gelding scored by a length and a quarter from Kingfisher and Ryan Moore – who on Thursday equalled the modern-day record of eight winners at Royal Ascot with two days remaining. Forgotten Rules and Pat Smullen was a neck back in third.
The victory justified the winning connections’ decision to pay the £35,000 supplementary entry fee for the gelding who won the Chester Cup in May and is part-owned by Dunlop.
“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,” Dunlop said.
“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.
“Trip to Paris has 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.
“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.”
“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. Some have 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?”
Lee added: “The second I got legged up on him in the parade ring I knew he was going to run well. I had a look when I turned in [to the straight] where I was going to go and there was a gap down the rail. He has picked up well and he deserved this.”
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