Light to shine in Thursday feature

  • By: Simon Holt
  • Last Updated: June 18 2014, 11:11 BST

Simon Holt previews day three at Royal Ascot where Leading Light is fancied to land the Gold Cup.

Leading Light: Fancied to beat Estimate in the feature
Leading Light: Fancied to beat Estimate in the feature

While many a heart will wish for a second Gold Cup win for Her Majesty The Queen, last year's St Leger winner LEADING LIGHT looks a good bet to lower the Royal colours worn aboard Estimate in Thursday's big race renewal at Royal Ascot.

The winner of the Queens Vase at this meeting 12 months ago, Aidan O'Brien's classic winner has developed into a smart stayer winning decisively from the Oaks winner Talent at Doncaster in September before finishing unplaced in the Arc.

Leading Light made the perfect reappearance in the Vintage Crop Stakes at The Curragh in May, handing out a decisive beating to the re-opposing Royal Diamond (a winner here on Champions Day last October) and, with the course and distance likely to suit him ideally, Joseph O'Brien's mount could prove too classy.

Estimate brought the house down when defeating Simenon here last year, prompting scenes of joy in the Royal Box, but then struggled in softer ground behind Royal Diamond in the autumn.

Ground conditions should be more suitable here but Sir Michael Stoute has been under pressure to have her primed for this repeat attempt following a setback in the spring. Reportedly, Estimate has been working well - beating the smart middle distance horse Hillstar in one gallop - but whether a repeat performance a year later (it was a bunch finish last June) would be good enough again in what looks a better quality race remains to be seen.

Of the others, the likeable Brown Panther would be a popular winner for his owner-breeder Michael Owen and comes into the race in fine fettle after victories at Chester and Sandown this season.

A creditable eighth in the Melbourne Cup last November, this strapping six-year-old has got better with age and should be thereabouts.

Meanwhile, the grey Tac de Boistron could be a danger to all and was particularly impressive here in the Sagaro Stakes in April but, unless heavy rain eases conditions, he is unlikely to run.

Earlier, INCHILA looks the obvious selection for the Ribblesdale Stakes providing she has recovered from her hard race at Epsom nearly a fortnight ago when fourth to Taghrooda in the Oaks.

Indeed, with better luck in running, Peter Chapple-Hyam's filly would probably have chased the winner home - she was badly impeded in the closing stages - and the step up to this distance of a mile and a half that day seemed to suit her very well.

The most talented of Inchila's rivals here could be the French filly Vazira, successful in two of her three racecourse starts meeting defeat for the first time against the unbeaten We Are in the Prix Saint Alary at Longchamp last time while the O'Brien-trained Guineas disappointment Bracelet is now fitted with a hood for this step up to a mile and a half.