Royal Ascot: Stayers do battle on Gold Cup day
Many of the runners in today's Gold Cup at Royal Ascot are making their debut in the race, making it one of the more interesting meets in recent years.
The sport's best stayers will battle it out for Gold Cup success over two-and-a-half miles in a race won by the Queen's horse Estimate last year. That was a cracking spectacle and this years' race is looking like another smashing renewal.
Pivotal in the selection process is the going.
Speaking yesterday, trainer Dermot Weld said he would like "some kindness in the ground" for the favourite Forgotten Rules (11/4), who he hasn't decided will run or not. It's likely he will run after groundstaff at Ascot applied some water last night.
Jockeys described conditions at Ascot as "lightning quick" and "very firm" yesterday, and the decision was made to add 5mm of water on the whole track.
That said, the ease will have to be considerable for Forgotten Rules to outshine some top stayers in his first Group 1 affair.
However, the unbeaten 5-year-old looks a top class horse and stayed on very well to win a two-mile Group 2 affair at Ascot last year, suggesting the step up in trip will be welcome. He scored in a Group 3 event at Navan earlier this year and is one to strongly consider.
The Cumani-trained Mizzou (11/2) is one to take seriously and is still progressive as a young 4-year-old. He will enjoy the step up in trip after running on in a two-mile race at Ascot, beating off Vent De Force.
Vent De Force (8/1) beat the excellent Willie Mullins-trained Simenon (9/1) by just two lengths over an extended two-miler at Sandown earlier this year. The step up in trip will likely suit Simenon, however, who has James Doyle in the saddle.
He can go very close at a trip that is right up his street.
Kingfisher (9/1) is an unknown quantity at this distance and looks to be out of his depth in the company of some others. He was well held by Forgotten Rules in Navan and will have to be very good upped in trip.
The French raider Bathyrhon (10/1) is in a similar boat to the favourite with regards to the ground. However, he gets the trip and if the easing is to his benefit can go very close.
An interesting runner is the Botti-trained Tac de Boistron (12/1, above) who has Martin Harley in the saddle. The smart stayer will be hoping for an ease much like several others after missing a race in France due to the ground.
“We will see what happens with the ground. If it is too quick we will take our time and wait for the Irish St Leger and races like that," Botti said.
“I don’t want to keep him in fast work all the summer with the uncertainty of the ground.
“He has a lot of options in the latter part of the season – the Irish St Leger, the Cadran and the Prix Royal-Oak."
He'll be hoping for some give in the ground on top of the 5mm added by the groundstaff if de Boistron is to perform.
At bigger prices Trip to Paris (12/1) will really enjoy the trip and looks one to consider. He might be able to place after several encouraging runs.
The others will have to produce career bests and look up against it.
Picks for the Gold Cup
Forgotten Rules (11/4 to win)
Tac de Boistron (12/1, each way)
Mizzou (11/2, each way double)