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Gold Cup preview

Tomorrow's feature mightn't have the superstar like Yeats going for yet another win in the race but it is a seriously good contest with plenty of chances. Weight-for-age championship races aren't supposed to be like this! Saddling up for another crack at a Royal Ascot feature is Calum Madell, @calummadell. Read more of his work on his blog, TheYoungRacegoer.

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Gold Cup

A really competitive Ascot Gold Cup this year and a big field for once. Rain is a strong possibility tomorrow so that must come into consideration when thinking of all bets tomorrow. Leading the way at the head of the market is Estimate who of course would be a fairytale winner for her Majesty the Queen and this progressive four-year-old deserves to be at the head of the market. Shee won at the meeting last year in an admittedly very poor Queen’s Vase and though she was held twice behind Wild Coco after that, she looked to have improved significantly over the winter and readily justified favouritism in the Sagaro on his return. Her most impressive performances have been over two miles so she should relish the extra four furlongs but without doubt has to improve to take this.

There’s two past winners in the field, that include the highly versatile but fragile Rite Of Passage, who won in 2010 and last year’s victor Colour Vision. The former put up a mammoth performance to win the Long Distance Cup on Champions' Day, his first run for a year and a half and that of course more than entitles him to run here on his return and run well. But on stats it’s a huge ask, no horse over eight years old has won for years. The 2012 winner meanwhile also has a good bit to prove and I’ve always thought that race, which was a horrible slog in tacky ground, has taken the edge off him. He has looked very laboured since that race, nothing on the speed he showed when taking the Sagaro Stakes on his reappearance last year for instance and more alarming was the fact his worst run was his return this season in the Henry II when the race didn’t go to plan but he looked totally uninterested. The visor is tried but it’s clutching at straws for me and it would need a huge comeback to retain his crown.

One of the revelations of last year’s meeting was Simenon who won both the Ascot Stakes on the opening day and the final race of the week, the Queen Alexandra Stakes. They of course are handicaps and nothing on a Gold Cup and since then he finished behind a number of these in the Cup races over two miles and though he will be better equipped over this extended trip and he ran a big race of a big weight in the Chester Cup latest, he still has to improve to win this and I think he is plenty short in the market taking that into account

Saddler’s Rock ran a really good race to finish third last year and then went on to take the Goodwood Cup when he was hyped as the next big staying star. But it hasn’t worked out for him since, having plenty of chances but not even placing in six starts. Admittedly the last two in Dubai can probably be forgotten as both didn’t suit his way of racing, plus he certainly has the form to go two better this time as he pulled hard last year and the ground will be more to his liking this time, but again I prefer the look of others.

Instead I’m heading more towards the way of the consistent stayers from last season who could well improve for the trip and have slightly unexposed profiles too. Times Up is less in the latter category but he was a huge favourite of mine last season, particularly making up for what had been a poor time for the John Dunlop yard when winning the Lonsdale Cup at York and then going on to take the Doncaster Cup after that. He has since joined Ed Dunlop and made an average reappearance in the Sagaro in a race that didn’t suit pace wise and the ground was too soft for him according to his trainer. Still I get the feeling he may come on again for this as he is a stayer with a strong turn of foot, meaning he needs to be on song to challenge and instead I’m opting for the horse that was one place behind him at both York and Doncaster and that’s HIGH JINX.

He is an ultra consistent type who has never been out of the top four in 11 starts and highlighted himself as one of the top stayers about when running on well in the Lonsdale Cup but then losing out by a lesser margin when sent over two furlongs further. He had a number of these in behind when again runner-up in the Cadran on heavy and I thought he made a nice return to action in the Sagaro, a race that also didn’t pan out for him. The rain forecast is a significant boost for him but he’ll go on good ground anyway and I think he will absolutely love this test of stamina finally on ground that isn’t terrible. He’s a superb e/w bet anyway at 12/1 with a real chance of winning the big prize he deserves and there’s nothing else I’d rather be on than him.

There is a strong foreign interest this year in the race too including German raiders Earl Of Tinsdal and Altano for Andreas Wohler. The former has the trip to prove though and didn’t particularly seem to relish the step up to two miles even last time. It’s worth a go but his form still leaves him with a bit to find on these. The latter seems to stay all day and so could thrive in this race; he is preferred of the two. The French seem to have a couple of more viable contenders but still Last Train has to find extra for the trip and instead I can’t get away from having a saver on VADAMAR who made a nice return to action three weeks ago, a race that clearly seemed to be a trial for this. He is unexposed at this trip as so far he’s had just one run, that being the Cadran where he did too much out in front on heavy and his form over 1m4f or so entitles him to a good deal of respect. The rain will also suit him, though less so Top Trip who is versatile but is trying over here to get faster ground. He ran a big race in the Yorkshire Cup latest when going down by the smallest of margins but stamina is unproven and that race was nothing on this.

Looking at the outsiders now and Biographer is interesting now stepped right into the deep end. He is a really exciting stayer in the making and made a decent return in a hot Newmarket handicap won by Tiger Cliff. Still he needs to come on for that significantly but he should be staying on well and has been supported already. Another who could love this test and is unexposed is Model Pupil who I’ve been a fan of for a good while. He ran a cracker in the Sagaro last time and has place claims with the talented New Zealand jockey James McDonald on board.

It’s the first time in years Aidan O’Brien doesn’t have a big contender and hopes are with El Salvador who looks a good stayer in time but has to improve significantly on what he’s shown already. Number Theory is out to prove that his Sagaro second was no fluke but with how the race panned out, I get the suspicion it was. Repeater is an intriguing one as his fourth behind Times Up at Doncaster was a good little run though he was getting a stone that day and may not have improve sufficiently as he flopped after that too while finally Aaim To Prosper returns to Brian Meehan after a mixed time with Paul Nicholls and this multiple Cesarewitch winner has a tough task in stall here to even go better than his eighth back in 2011.

Advice
High Jinx 1.5pts e/w @12/1 generally
Vadamar 0.75pts e/w @33/1 generally

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