Views from connections ahead of the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Saturday.
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Three-times champion jockey Ryan Moore is confident Gold Cup heroine Estimate can keep her unbeaten Ascot record intact in Saturday's QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained filly provided one of the greatest stories of the Flat season when carrying the colours of the Queen to victory at Royal Ascot in June, becoming the first Gold Cup winner in history owned by a reigning monarch.
The triumph thrust the sport into the wider public domain as images of the scenes of celebration in the Royal box and in and around the Ascot winner's enclosure were beamed around the world.
Estimate has not made a competitive start during the subsequent four months, but Moore believes the four-year-old is in tip-top condition as she aims to secure her fourth victory at the Berkshire circuit from as many starts.
"She's in very good order - she has improved every start of her career. It was a good performance when she won at Ascot, it has been a bit of a while since then but her work has been good lately," said Moore.
"She likes Ascot - she's three from three there. I'm a bit worried about softer ground but hopefully she'll handle it and I think she's the one they all have to beat."
The Queen's racing manager, John Warren, admits it will be difficult to reproduce that stunning day at the Royal meeting, but believes the fact Estimate has not run since could stand her in good stead.
"Ryan Moore rode her last week and was very impressed at her form for this time of year because this is when fillies can just go off a little bit, or go over the top. If she runs to her best she's going to be in with a shout again. Her Majesty is very much looking forward to it."
"She's really well. She had a nice let down after the Gold Cup, which was a gruelling test over two and a half miles, so Sir Michael wanted to give her a nice let down for an autumn campaign. She's really pleasing him," Warren told At The Races.
"Ryan Moore rode her last week and was very impressed at her form for this time of year because this is when fillies can just go off a little bit, or go over the top.
"Being the expert that he is, Sir Michael always wants his horses performing at 100% rather than 85 or 90%.
"The filly wasn't at 100% as he would have wanted her to be (after Royal Ascot), so, in his typical style, he thought he'd hold on and go for Ascot and this is where we are.
"Her Majesty is very much looking forward to it. It will be hard to repeat what she did in the Gold Cup again as that was such a wonderful day, but she's such a genuine filly so if she runs to her best she's going to be in with a shout again.
"Hopefully, if we enjoy it as much it will be hard to contain the enthusiasm but that is why you own horses, getting excited about the trials and tribulations from the breeding process, the breaking, the development and all that to get to that point. It is fun when you get to that point with horses of that calibre and class."
"It has been the aim to run here so we'll have a go at it again. He likes soft ground, he's a Selkirk and he's won there in the soft but we'll see. It will be fresh ground on the inside and as it's the first race on the card, they'll get the best of it."
Among those hoping to spoil the Royal party is champion trainer John Gosden. The master of Clarehaven saddles last year's runner-up Aiken, who has disappointed in two starts so far this year, as well as recent Newmarket scorer Caucus.
Gosden said: "He (Aiken) had a bit of a problem in winter and spring and he's coming back to himself. He didn't put his best foot forward in Paris last time out, but he seems to be in good order and working well.
"It has been the aim to run here so we'll have a go at it again. He likes soft ground, he's a Selkirk and he's won there in the soft but we'll see. It will be fresh ground on the inside, they haven't used it for some time as it was protected at the last meeting so as it's the first race on the card, they'll get the best of it.
"Caucus is a good, solid stayer. His form has been very good this year. His best form has probably been on good but he's worked well on the soft, he's run some good races on easier ground. I just wouldn't want to see it going heavy."
The Godolphin team rely on Ahzeemah, who has not finished out of the first two in his last 11 starts.
Saeed bin Suroor's four-year-old certainly deserves his place in the line-up having won the Lonsdale Cup at York on his penultimate start before filling the runner-up spot in the Irish St Leger.
"Ahzeemah is very well. He's a very tough horse and he tries very hard in all his races," said bin Suroor.
"He has been in very good form this season, he's a good fighter and the trip should suit him. When he worked on Tuesday morning, he worked very well and he is ready to go."
"Ahzeemah is very well. He's a very tough horse and he tries very hard in all his races. He has been in very good form this season, he's a good fighter and the trip should suit him. He worked very well on Tuesday and he is ready to go."
Saeed bin Suroor
The William Haggas-trained Harris Tweed is an interesting contender having emerged from a slightly disappointing spell to register back-to-back victories at Goodwood.
The six-year-old encounters two miles for just the second time this weekend, but his trainer does not expect him to be beaten for a lack of stamina.
Haggas said: "He's done really well recently. He's in a rich vein of form and we decided to wait and run him on Champions Day.
"It's over two miles which he's never won over. I don't think the trip is a problem. What he does need is a right-hand track so while I'm not saying he's going to win at Ascot, he's perfectly entitled to be there.
"It was a very solid run when he beat Camborne in a handicap at Goodwood and also in the Listed race there when he beat Mount Athos. It was six lengths back to Tac de Boistron of Marco Botti's and he was second in the Prix du Cadran, so it's pretty solid form."
Another horse with sound place claims is Biographer, who won at Ascot little over a year ago and ran his best race of the season so far when a close fourth in the Doncaster Cup last month.
"He's had a lot better preparation for his race. Just coming into his Newbury run (in August), he had a bit of an unsettled preparation. He's had a nice break and since then it's all gone uninterrupted and the ground won't bother him."
His trainer, David Lanigan, said: "The ground will be in Biographer's favour. It will be the first time he's had his ground since he won this time last year on it.
"He's had a lot better preparation for his race. Just coming into his Newbury run (in August), he had a bit of an unsettled preparation. He's had a nice break and since then it's all gone uninterrupted and the ground won't bother him, hopefully."
The home team is completed by Doncaster Cup one-two Times Up and High Jinx, while there is also a strong challenge from across the Irish Sea.
In the absence of last year's winner Rite Of Passage, trainer Dermot Weld relies on the lightly-raced Pale Mimosa.
John Oxx's Saddler's Rock ran his best race in a while when third in the Irish Leger and Johnny Murtagh sends stable stalwart Royal Diamond.
The travelling team is completed by the only three-year-old in the 12-strong field - Aidan O'Brien's Eye Of The Storm.
The Galileo colt has won his last two starts at Listowel and the Curragh and is partnered by Billy Lee, having a rare ride for the Ballydoyle trainer.