4.25 Royal Ascot
Gold Cup (British Champions Series) (Group 1) (Class 1) (4YO plus)
Winner £212,662 – 14 run
Advice: 1 pt each/way Brown Panther (15/2 Paddy Power, Bet Victor), 1 pt each/way Altano (14/1 general), 1 pt each/way Shwaiman (100/1 Bet Victor)
Azeemah: Beat Simenon to take the Lonsdale Cup last year but that his last win and while Irish Leger second not exactly a poor effort, no form since that suggests that he’s likely to take a hand today and more needed.
Altano: Fifth in this last year but that doesn’t tell half the story as he was dropped out of the ground and got going too late to be involved; Much the same story when he was second to Brown Panther in the Goodwood Cup; No coincidence that when the tactics were finally right, he landed Prix Cadaran on Arc day, and tuned up for this in fine style with reappearance win.
Brown Panther: Long been a high class horse but really come inot his own as a stayer over the last two years, really clear cut winner when beating some of these at Goodwood and then not suited by nature of Melbourne Cup; Emphasis being back on stamina suited this season and on just second start at 2 miles, was an emphatic winner of Henry II Stakes; Must go well today.
Oriental Fox: Clear cut winner of Cesarawitch trial in style of a group horse but not quite gone onto those heights; Slammed by Tac De Boistron getting 7lbs on his return, and seventh, well beaten, a long way behind Brown Panther latest; Needs more.
Royal Diamond: Beat Irish Leger winner Voleuse De Couers in wamrup for the race and then landed the staying race on British Champions Day when Estimate disappointed and a few of these behind; Respectable second on reappearance to Leading Light but was well beaten and form reversal would be surprising.
Saddler’s Rock: Looked as if staying world was his oyster when third in this 2 years ago but taken a sharp step the wrong way since and it’s hard to be enthusiastic about him in any way, shape or form.
Simenon: Useful hurdler turned dual code ace who took 2 big staying prizes at this meeting in 2012 and since graduated upto top level staying contests, second in this last year, and fourth in the Lembourne Cup to boot; Worry now that he’s began to lose his form, albeit running over trips short of test and with soft ground not what he’d wanted here latest but needs more to get involved.
Tac De Boistrion: Always been a stayer of high promise and landed first Group 1 success when Altano disappointing in the Prix Royal Oak; Relishes the soft ground so no surprise to see him win so impressively on return in the Sagaro Stakes; Ground a worry last time but ran a screamer when second in a really strong renewal of the Yorkshire Cup.
Havana Beat: Seventh attempt at a group race but apart from the Bahrain Trophy, has never exactly gone close to winning one and miles behind Gospel Choir on return and then Leading Light in the Ladbrokes St Leger; Hard to envisage him going too close.
Ralston Road: Dead heated with the progressive Clever Cookie at York latest in 1m6f event and that followed decent Meydan effort but a good deal more needed to get involved here and may not enjoy this trip as much as third placed Shwaiman.
Shwaiman: Behind Ralston Road at York last time but didn’t have much room for a challenge and that another solid effort to add to the Chester Cup sixth from an impossible draw when he was staying on at the end like a horse who would enjoy this trip more than most; Had shown useful form beforehand too, ground a plus, and not without his chance of causing a massive shock.
Estimate: Always looked a progressive stayer and landed the Queen’s vase in fine style before then taking the Sgaro Stakes, and landed both support financially to give Royal crowds a Royal winner in the Gold Cup last year when edging out Simenon
Missunited: Very good dual purpose mare, although no answer to Tac De Boistron when third in Royal Oak and the same again when fourth in the Sagaro; Ground possibly gone against her a tad and much more needed.
Pale Mimosa: Looked as if she was going to take a big hand in the staying division when beating Missunited in good style; Disappointing in Irish Ledger but better when fourth in staying race on Champions Day, but will need to come on an awful lot for her run to Leading Light and others preferred.
VERDICT: The claims of Leading Light are hard to get away from but he’s can be let win at the prices even if he does have an outstanding chance. Second favourite BROWN PANTHER has always looked a horse worth aiming at this race, and with his impressive Henry II win suggesting (along with an impressive Goodwood Cup success) that this trip would not be an issue and his form stacks up right against the best. ALTANO was too conservatively ridden in that race and the Gold Cup last year, but proved his class in winning the Cadran and after an impressive comeback win, looks primed to go well if being ridden within touch and is clear second preference. Tac De Boistron has a fine form chance but was beaten by Altano the last time they met at 2m4f and the ground is now becoming a worry, and Estimate’s long absence is disconcerting here. As an outsider, Shwaiman easily makes the most appeal stepping upto a trip he should relish for the first time and he can outrun odds of 80/1.