Right Passage for Gold

  • By: Simon Holt
  • Last Updated: June 20 2013, 15:53 BST

Simon Holt previews Thursday's feature action at Royal Ascot and fancies Rite Of Passage in the Gold Cup.

Rite Of Passage: Can win the Gold Cup for a second time

Thursday's Gold Cup looks the most open for many years with 18 horses set to face the starter. All eyes are on the Queen's filly Estimate, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and the mount of Ryan Moore.

Should she win it would be the headline act of the week and hugely popular and I just question whether she's quite good enough. The form of her win in last year's Queen's Vase didn't really work out and she was third twice behind Wild Coco at Goodwood and Doncaster.

Anticipation of a Royal winner of the Gold Cup grew when she made a winning reappearance in the Sagaro Stakes but the form again hasn't worked out. She has around seven pounds to make up on official ratings and I think she faces a tough task.

RITE OF PASSAGE is the class horse in the race having won the Gold Cup of 2010 and it will be a brilliant piece of training by Dermot Weld if he can bring him back to win this. His win here in October last year, when beating Aiken, looks the best form on offer. Even though he's nine there aren't many miles on the clock. I like his chance.

Saddler's Rock and Simenon are respected but TOP TRIP is interesting. His trainer Francois Doumen rarely misses on his British raids and this fellow was just touched off by Glen's Diamond in the Yorkshire Cup. It wasn't a terribly strong renewal of the race but he showed a good attitude and looked an absolute out-and-out stayer.

He could be worth an each-way saver but it's Rite Of Passage of me.

The other big race is the Ribblesdale and the Investec Oaks third THE LARK is among the field. I fancy her to reverse previous form with Winsili from Newbury this season as she was having only her third start that day.

Winsili has a ten furlong pedigree and The Lark is bred to improve with time and distance. She ran a personal best at Epsom and still looked a little green that day. This race looks made for her.

Alive Alive Oh has won both her starts this season and was particularly impressive in a Listed race at Navan last time. She's an interesting prospect for Tommy Stack but isn't necessarily bred to excel at a mile-and-a-half.

  • Preview posted at 1420 BST on 19/06/2013.