Tusk camp sense big run in Gold Cup

Owners optimistic about outsider’s place prospects

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Connections of Raymond Tusk believe he is more than capable of running into a place in the Ascot Gold Cup.

The Richard Hannon-trained four-year-old will make his first start at Group One level since finishing sixth in last year’s St Leger, when stepping up in trip for the prestigious two-and-a-half-mile contest on Thursday.

After chasing home Dee Ex Bee on his return to European action on his first start over two miles in the Sagaro Stakes, the son of High Chaparral finished third on his most recent outing – reverting back to a mile and a half in a Group Three at Newbury.

Tim Palin, spokesman for owners Middleham Park Racing, said: “The further we have gone with him, the better he has seemed to be – and although he is not guaranteed to stay, the plan is to go for the Ascot Gold Cup.

“He is still 6lb short of Stradivarius. If somebody said to me he will finish within six lengths of him, I would take that now, because that might be third – but it could easily be sixth.”

The re-opposing Dee Ex Bee is much shorter in the market next week, but has little in hand on their recent Ascot running.

Palin added: “In the Sagaro he finished second to Dee Ex Bee, giving him 5lb. I’m not saying we will turn that around – but we meet him on 5lb better terms, and if he is in the vicinity, then there is a case to be made for us.

“For all that he is trading at around 33-1, I think he probably should be around a 14-1 shot. If he did finish third, it would not surprise me. You never know if he will stay the trip, but he deserves to be there.”

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