Preview: Royal Ascot – Gold Cup (Group 1)

Ascot Grand Stand, by Florian Christoph

What a race in prospect – even if turns out that favourite Forgotten Rules isn’t going to run – which looks increasingly likely given the fast ground. My short-list is long because if you want, you could make a serious case for at least half the field. It’s that strong a renewal of this prestigious stayers contest.

Of course if Dermot Weld decides to run Forgotten Rules, regardless of the ground, you have to give this lightly raced five year old a big chance. He’s such an exciting prospect in this division, unbeaten in four starts, and already a Group 2 winner over 2 miles. However the fast conditions are a serious concern, and I’m prepared to take him on for this reason. So let’s check in on all the other runners.

Bathyrhon: Excellent prep run in France last month. Runner-up in Group 1 Prix Du Cadran last season over 2m 4f. So stays the trip and best form came on sound surface. One would think the quick ground isn’t an issue. Has a turn of foot and can be ridden any way. Classy prospect.

Biographer: Has some fair staying form. Second in Long Distance Cup last season. But overall profile suggests he’s likely to fall short in this class.

Havana Beat: Career best in Dubai Gold Cup over 2m earlier this year, followed up with another good performance at York. Stamina a big concern over this trip and long way beaten in this race last year.

Kalann: Fair Irish stayer. Runner-up in last years Doncaster Cup but should find this here way too hot.

Simenon: Done well in the Gold Cup in recent years. Consistent performer and can’t be underestimated. But lacks a change of gear which is required to win, and therefore likely to fall short yet again.

Tac De Boistron: Classy stayer, multiple Group 1 winner. Would be major player if the ground comes soft. That is unlikely, though, and will make life difficult for him.

Forever Now: Tried 2 miles twice this year. Ran okay without setting the world alight. Hard to fancy.

Kingfisher: Well bred individual. Runner-up in 2014 Irish Derby. Aimed towards staying contests this year and did well to win prep race at Leopardstown a fortnight ago. Definite player and likely to relish this test but merit of form is debatable.

Mizzou: Top class prospect. Won Group 3 over 2 miles at Ascot on his seasonal reappearance. He looks a real stayer and will be better the further he goes. Still lightly raced, he is open to any amount of improvement and quite clearly a key player in the Gold Cup.

Scotland: Zero chance.

Trip To Paris: Improving stayer. Will relish the trip. Won Chester Cup earlier this year and slightly unlucky when last seen. Conditions will suit and big chance if this race isn’t one too many after a very busy campaign in recent weeks.

Vent De Force: Exciting prospect. Big, bold, raw. A stayer. Bit unlucky on his seasonal comeback at Ascot when runner-up behind Mizzou. But made no mistake the next time at Sandown when ridden from the front. He’s a scopey galloping sort, one who has plenty of stamina on both sire and dam side. Will love the conditions.

Windshear: Good fourth in last years Leger. Has been disappointing on most occasions ever since.

Verdict: Regardless of whether Forgotten Rules is going to post, this is an ultra-competitive contest. That says it may well be worth to side with the improving individuals. Mizzou is one of those. He looks a real stayer and must have a prime chance. However he’s a rather skinny price and I fail to see why Vent De Force is twice his price.

This Vent De Force didn’t get a clear run when these two met at Ascot earlier this year but he made no mistake the next time. He looks a very exciting prospect, is sure to relish trip and ground and is one I feel should be a shorter price.

I like to see Kingfisher to improve again. He’s a very interesting contender, but I question his form and others have stronger credentials. Trip To Paris is one of those. I feel though, he has done so much this season already, he might run out of gas this time.

That won’t happen to French raider Bathyrhon. He’ll stay every inch of the 2m 4f trip. He has top form to offer and is a very big price in my book. Connections expect a big run, as long as he handles the preliminaries of parade and the large crowd.

Vent De Force @ 8/1 Coral – 5pts Win
Bathyrhon @ 10/1 Coral – 5pts Win

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