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banner Saturday, 16 June, 2001, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
Wragg could bring riches
Cassandra Go (l) races to victory at Sandown Park
Cassandra Go (l) races to victory at Sandown Park
BBC Sport's Cornelius Lysaght believes the horses of Geoff Wragg will be the ones to follow at Royal Ascot.

They say that Royal Ascot is changing, adapting to a post 2000 era, Blair's Britain, if you like.

Well, that is highly debatable in many respects, but those appointed by the Queen to run her racecourse proudly declare that they have found a good blend of the old and the new.

On the one hand dress standards demanded in the grander areas have not altered radically since 1711, when Queen Anne began the meeting on a heath just down the road from her castle at Windsor.


Wragg has demonstrated an almost canny knack of getting it right at Royal Ascot
  Cornelius Lysaght
But on the other, as well as the modern march of corporate hospitality, there is unquestionably a more welcoming attitude than existed as recently, say, as twenty years ago.

Then people were frequently made to feel as if they were intruding into a members only club. That is still felt by some, but nowadays much less frequently.

One thing, however, does not change, and quite right too: the horses housed at the Newmarket stables of trainer Geoff Wragg continue to be the ones to follow.

At 71, Wragg, with his distinctive snowy white hair, is at the upper end of his profession's age scale.

But, during the lifetime that he has been involved in racing, first as assistant to his father Harry, and then as a trainer in his own right, he has demonstrated an almost canny knack of getting it right at Royal Ascot.

Since Pipsted became his first winner at the 1987 meeting, Wragg, who always has around 50, mainly pretty talented horses under his care, has won a total of 16 races at this Ascot meeting.

The highlights include three victories in the prestigious Coronation Stakes for fillies, one of them by the great Marling in 1992, and success for Arcadian Heights in the marathon 1994 running of the Gold Cup, for many the race of the week.

Trainer Geoff Wragg has an excellent Royal Ascot record
Trainer Geoff Wragg has an excellent Royal Ascot record
As usual, June 2001 sees a raiding party that is not huge, but, as the saying goes, what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality, with female horses being the ones to consider most closely.

Cassandra Go (King's Stand Stakes, Tuesday), Rockalong (Ribblesdale, Thursday) and Monnavana (Coronation Stakes, Friday) have all been brought along skilfully, with Ascot in mind.

And they can all boast encouragingly good form to their names.

Though the thought of Geoff Wragg boasting about anything will make anyone who knows him smile. He is a very quiet, thoughtful kind of person.

That is something that is occasionally infuriating when it comes to conducting radio and television interviews with him, but, from a punter's point of view, it is marvellous because he does not talk his horses up unnecessarily.


The Wragg team is happy to let the horses do the talking
  Cornelius Lysaght
Some trainers saddle horse x in race y, and, so hungry are they for success, that they think the cause will be aided by shouting their mouths off in advance.

It hardly ever achieves anything other than to alert the bookies who will react by immediately pushing down their odds.

To use and old cliché, the Wragg team is happy to let the horses do the talking.

This week, one of his supporters e-mailed me about Cassandra Go.

A very fast and successful sprinter, whose owner Trevor Stewart decided that the year old filly that he had purchased as a foal to sell on at a profit was too good to let go.

The e-mail said that Stewart had shown tremendous judgement for which he has been handsomely rewarded.

But, it went on, his best decision of all, was to choose Geoff Wragg to train her. I predict cries of Hear! Hear! will soon be echoing across Ascot Heath again.

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