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Florida Pearl's owner Archie O'Leary has made a career out of selling insurance so it's no surprise he has a way with words. 'It'll take some horse to beat him but it depends on the horse pinging on the day. On Gold Cup day some horse always pings. I just hope it will be our ping,' he grins.

Talk of pings makes O'Leary sound like a submarine commander a la Sean Connery in the Hunt For Red October. And it's not just the talk. The 70-year-old Corkman still has the bulk of the three times capped second row forward he was in the 1950s.

Urbane, jocular and successful, O'Leary tries to downplay the importance of Florida Pearl and the Gold Cup. After all, he didn't payout £50,000 to own the horse and subsequently turn down £300,000 for that same horse just to be stressed out by it. 'I've been in sport a long time and I know nothing is won until the final whistle so I'm not going to say what he's going to do,' he declares.

And yet it's difficult not to. He's that kind of horse. Florida Pearl didn't fulfil the hopes of so many and win the Gold Cup last year. Then he was the great hope. Now there is something of the fallen idol about him. The result is less pressure for his connections but that doesn't mean the memory of 12 months ago doesn't hurt.

'He was over-hyped,' O'Leary says simply. 'He became like the sliced loaf, the next Arkle and all that. Every second day, there was somebody looking for a comment and it got to people. Then when he was beaten, a lot of the correspondents gutted us. I wasn't cross about it, just disappointed. Now it's the turn of Gloria Victis and See More Business to be hyped to hell.'

In conversation, it doesn't take long, however, to realise that hopes of Florida Pearl bouncing back with a victory in the sport's blue riband are still very real. 'We're quiet and calm this time. The pressure is off everybody. Compared to last year we've nothing to lose,' declares O'Leary.

'Florida Pearl seems to be a leaner and tougher animal this time. It was obvious he wasn't quite right in the Gold Cup last year but the way he is now is not unlike Imperial Call who was spot on the year he won it. Florida Pearl seems to be spot on now and if he has come on, as an eight year old is entitled to, we have our chance. In an above average Gold Cup, you can't ask for more,' he states.

'For the first time in 18 months I'm seeing him attacking his fences the way I know he can. They say he won't get up the hill but he got up it in the SunAlliance and he's two years older now,' O'Leary adds.

A different factor this time round is the presence of Paul Carberry who hopefully will be on Florida Pearl's back and O'Leary has been deeply impressed with the seamless transition from the horse's old partner, Richard Dunwoody.

O'Leary imagines Carberry sitting just off the leaders today. Those leaders he believes will be Gloria Victis and Looks Like Trouble. The intriguing thought is what will happen if he is still tailing them into the straight. 'Then we'll see what he can do,' he declares. O'Leary won't be alone in hoping Florida Pearl just pings past them on his way to racing immortality.