Royal Ascot: Doubts growing over Clever Cookie for Royal Ascot

Clever Cookie. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA.
Clever Cookie. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA.
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PETER NIVEN feels there “has to be a doubt” about Clever Cookie participation in Thursday’s Gold Cup at Royal Ascot due to the lack of rain due before the race.

The former jockey was praying Ascot would receive some of the thunder storms which fell in the south over the weekend, but the rain which actually fell on the track was negligible.

With no more rain forecast and clerk of the course Chris Stickels having no plans to water as yet, Niven is already thinking of a Plan B.

“We’ll obviously have to make a final decision tomorrow morning, the ground is the only factor as the horse is extremely well,” said the Malton trainer.

“Obviously they’ve stopped watering now, we could have done with some rain at the weekend.

“It’s a real tough one, he’s gone on fast ground before but he hasn’t really shown his true form on it. It’s whether it is worth the risk or not.

“York was good ground but since they redid Ascot it has a history of getting very quick and I’ve spoken to other trainers who has said their horses have come back sore from there.

“I spoke to the clerk at Ascot last week and he intends to produce very fast ground and that’s a bit frightening. Unfortunately I’ve only got one very good horse and I don’t have many coming along after him.

“He’s only had two runs this year and there is a map planned out for him that goes right through to Ascot for Champions Day in October. That was always the intention to try and peak for that but I obviously haven’t done a great job as a trainer as he’s won his first two! He’s just starting to thrive now.

“There’s an option in France next month, there’s the Northumberland Plate next week as it looks like there might be a drop of rain, so there are options.

“There’s only one Ascot Gold Cup, next year might not be his chance as he’ll be eight. It’s very tempting and obviously there are people I need to speak to this afternoon. Mick Fitzgerald is kindly looking at the track in the morning and we’ll make a decision then.

“There’s got to be a doubt, like there is about the top two or three in the betting, it could end up being a weakened race.”