Ahzeemah can cause Marathon upset
Ian Brindle's horse-by-horse guide to the QIPCO British Long Distance Cup at Ascot.
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AHZEEMAH: No stranger to winning at Ascot having won here twice in 2012 and having finished second to Brown Panther in the Goodwood Cup, he went on to win the Lonsdale Cup at York. While beaten fair and square at the Curragh in the Irish St Leger and unproven on the surface, as a son of Dubawi (who has sired a number of winners in testing ground) there is a fair chance he'll be able to cope with it.
AIKEN: Lightly-raced five-year-old that was second in the race last year but has only raced twice this term, with the latter being a lamentable performance in the Prix Gladiateur at Longchamp. A dual winner at the track and a soft ground winner to boot though William Buick has decided to ride elsewhere.
BIOGRAPHER: Won the Noel Murless Stakes at Ascot on soft ground last season and gave Caucus a decent battle in a Listed event at Sandown earlier this term. Distant fourth in the Doncaster Cup last month and appears a little short of this class on balance.
CAUCUS: An impressive winner in Listed company at Newmarket (giving weight and a beating to his rivals) and a regular in the Graded company. Kept on well to chase Estimate in the Sagaro Stakes earlier in the year and gets to try and reverse that form at 2lb better terms.
HARRIS TWEED: Admirable old stick that has struck up a fine combination with George Baker - landing two out of two at Goodwood. A previous Group 3 winner and possible front runner, he seems more than capable of showing his form on any surface. Seemed not to stay two miles at York on his only previous attempt over the trip.
HIGH JINX: Still has few miles in his clock for his age but he's been notoriously difficult to catch right for punters that have rowed in about him for win purposes. Had every chance against Times Up in the Doncaster Cup (for the second year in succession) and subsequently ran very much in snatches at Longchamp in the Prix du Cadran. Tongue-strap back on today and could be a big price
ROYAL DIAMOND: Former Michael Dods inmate that has gone on to be a very decent horse in Ireland and has won a listed contest at the Leopardstown, along with the Irish St Leger trial at the Curragh this season Fifth in the Irish Leger and needs a career best to win this.
SADDLER'S ROCK:Looked to have the world at his feet when winning the Goodwood Cup in 2012 but has been desperately disappointing since. Sixth in this race last season and well beaten in the Ascot Gold Cup this year but his best effort for some time when a running on third in the Irish St Leger last time out.
TIMES UP: Never got the credit he deserved for some of his performances in handicaps and despite market weakness, won a second Doncaster Cup in a race that arguably wasn't run to suit. Never much of a threat when staying on into third in the Prix du Cadran and while he's a likeable enough sort, his previous form around Ascot is nothing to write home about.
ESTIMATE: Not seen since her victory in the Gold Cup and a long range fancy from this prize for some time with gallops reports being positive in the extreme. Two wins from two races at Ascot confirmed her liking for the Berkshire venue and the ground really shouldn't be an issue as she won on it a year earlier in the Queen's Vase. Group One wins do not attract any penalties in this race, so a worthy favourite at today's weight terms.
PALE MIMOSA: A real headscratcher of a runner as Dermot Weld is not in the habit of making frivoulous entries and connections won this race 12 months ago with Rite Of Passion. A ready winner of a Listed contest at Leopardstown on her seasonal reappearance, she was well held in the Irish Leger but does have proven form in gluepot conditions as she was a wide margin winner of a Galway maiden.
EYE OF THE STORM: Surprisingly lightly raced for an Aidan O'Brien runner though won on her first foray over two miles when taking the Listed Loughbrown Stakes. Missed all of the Classics having finished second to Sugar Boy in the Sandown Derby trial, and while this is a big step up in grade, her full sister (Livia Galilei) is a three-times winner when soft has featured in the going description.
VERDICT: There was no more popular winner of the Ascot Gold Cup than Estimate and if she turns up in the same form, she looks difficult to oppose despite that long absence from the racecourse. Plenty of these have bits and pieces of form that entitle them to consideration including AHZEEMAH. Saeed Bin Suroor's runner was a worthy winner of the Lonsdale Cup and though an ability to handle the surface has to be taken on trust, he could well be the Cup horse that the boys in blue have been searching for.