Ascot Gold Cup – Brown Panther Going For Gold
Ascot Gold Cup
The showpiece event of the entire week at Royal Ascot is the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup over a marathon 2m4f (4.25)
In an event in which trainer, Aidan O’Brien, could send out his sixth winner via the 6/4 favourite, Leading Light; this improving 4yo colt was a dual Group 3 winner last season, including over 2m at Ascot (good to firm), before a defining moment in his short career to date when landing the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster (1m6f, good to soft).
Following a defeat in the Arc when stepped back to an unsuitable 1m4f, Leading Light then bounced back on his reappearance in landing a Group 3 at Navan by 3l (1m6f, good), where Royal Diamond and Pale Mimosa were well held – a possible good omen, as 13 of the last 17 Gold Cup winners already won that season.
So far, everything has gone to plan for Leading Light, with the only question being the extra half-a-mile trip. However, O’Brien won this race with Fame And Glory a few years back, who also had to prove himself over this far, and Leading Light will look to emulate that feat.
Similar comments apply to the current second favourite, Brown Panther (6/1), who also has to prove himself beyond 2m – the trip he won the Group 3 Henry II Stakes over last month (soft). That race has also provided six Gold Cup winners since 1997, and the manner in which Brown Panther kept galloping up the Sandown hill suggests he has nothing to fear over 2m4f.
Marco Botti’s 7yo, Tac De Boistron (13/2) on the hand, is one of the few in the line-up to have proven himself over this far, when over 2l second in Longchamp’s Group 1 Prix du Cadran last autumn (2m4f, soft), keeping on all the way to the line to finish over 2l behind Altano (10/1).
Tac De Boistron soon gained compensation back at Longchamp a few weeks later in a Group 1 over 2m, before winning the same Group 3 at Ascot (2m, soft) in April that Estimate used prior to winning last year’s Gold Cup. A step back to 1m6f wasn’t enough of a test for Tac De Boistron at York last month (good), but the return to Thursday’s unique trip will be right up his street. The only concern is the ground, as all of his winning was in the mud, so any rain would be welcome.
The aforementioned, Estimate (6/1), is back to defend her crown for Sirr Michael Stoute, and has to be respected as there have been numerous multiple Gold Cup winners down the years. A lack of fitness is the only worry, as she hasn’t appeared this season – 16 of the last 18 Gold Cup winners raced during the previous two months.
But, what about the German raider, Altano, who as mentioned beat Tac De Bositron in October’s Prix du Cadran? Well, some punters may remember that this 8yo actually ran in last season’s Gold Cup when finishing very strongly into fifth (beaten almost 4l), having been set too much to do from behind. Connections will be knowledgeable about Ascot’s short straight this time around, and the fact he handled good to firm ground 12 months ago suggests his odds of 10/1 look generous.
John Oxx’s, Saddler’s Rock (33/1) heads back for a third attempt having finished third in 2012, as does Simenon (16/1), who was just beaten by Estimate in this last year, but hasn’t shown much in his last four outings, including a 22l defeat here in April.
Leading Light certainly has a “leading” profile with ticks in the right boxes, but at 6/4, there could be each-way value via Brown Panther, who has already won at this meeting, handles good ground and suggested on a number of occasions there may be improvement to come over this longer trip.
Here are the full trends covering the last 18 years…
All 18 winners were ridden prominently or held up; Double Trigger was the last to win from the front in 1995.
All 18 were drawn away from the highest outside stall.
17 were males – Estimate the exception in 2013.
16 raced during the last two months. Sandown’s Henry II Stakes provided six winners, while two Yorkshire Cup winners followed up here. The Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown also produced three Irish winners.
16 were 4-6yo’s – only the mighty Yeats scored outside that age group.
14 won a Pattern race over 1m6f or further, while 13 won earlier that season.
A light campaign was ideal, with a maximum of three runs prior to Ascot, with those that ran in the previous year’s renewal all making the top three on that occasion.
Aidan O’Brien and Saeed Bin Suroor trained five winners each, while Mark Johnston sent out two.