IT’S been a tough old time for the Queen in recent weeks. But I suspect a change of luck could be on the cards when ESTIMATE lines up for the Ascot Gold Cup on the Thursday of the royal meeting. The filly has been laid out for the race since she won the Queen’s Vase at last year’s meeting and her impressive reappearance victory in the Sagaro Stakes confirmed that she is a stayer on the upgrade.
The only doubt is whether she will get home over the gruelling 2m4f but she wasn’t stopping last time and she certainly appears to reserve her best for the track.
She has most to fear from a strong Irish challenge, led by the wonderfully-versatile but brittle 2010 Gold Cup winner RITE OF PASSAGE. The ante-post favourite for the race, he looks pretty short enough at around 6/1 but cannot be discounted if Dermot Weld has got him somewhere back to his best.
The Irish challenge is strengthened by last year’s Ascot Stakes and Queen Alexandra winner SIMENON and the 2012 third SADDLER’S ROCK. But neither look to have the class to win a Group One.
Last year’s winner COLOUR VISION has flopped in his last two races and you wonder if his hard-fought victory in 2012 has left its mark. But the Godolphin team are relying on last year’s winner in preference to the upwardly mobile CAVALRYMAN and WILLING FOE who have both been taken out.
The market looks wide open and bookies are struggling to nominate a favourite so there might be some real each-way value lurking in the field.
For those looking for some each-way thievery, EL SALVADOR looks interesting and is too big a price for an Aidan O’Brien horse at around 25/1.
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