Altano can claim Gold

  • Last Updated: June 18 2014, 11:40 BST

Andy Charles' guide to the runners and riders in Thursday's Ascot Gold Cup featuring last year's winner Estimate.

Altano (white, left) comes home strongly behind Estimate (3rd from right) in last year's race
Altano (white, left) comes home strongly behind Estimate (3rd from right) in last year's race

AHZEEMAH

Trainer: Saeed Bin Suroor. Jockey: Kieren Fallon.

Had some top-class form last season, including a win in the Lonsdale Cup at York, but he’s held by a fair few of his rivals in this race and not convinced the extra half-mile is what he wants either. Rating: 2/10.

ALTANO

Trainer: Andreas Wohler. Jockey: Eduardo Pedroza.

Finished fifth behind Estimate in this race last year when his jockey was widely criticised for leaving him too much to do. Conditions should be in his favour again and every chance of him getting a lot closer this time, if not beating 2013 heroine Estimate and the rest of the field. Rating: 10/10.

BROWN PANTHER

Trainer: Tom Dascombe. Jockey: Richard Kingscote.

Has already won two races this season, albeit in a lower grade than this contest, but there is no certainty the quicker ground here will play to his advantage. Also has his stamina to prove despite plenty of decent form at two miles. Rating: 6/10.

ORIENTAL FOX

Trainer: Mark Johnston. Jockey: Joe Fanning.

Has been well beaten by a couple of today’s rivals in his two runs this season and appears as if he would be more at home back in top handicap company. Outclassed. Rating: 1/10.

ROYAL DIAMOND

Trainer: Johnny Murtagh. Jockey: Richard Hughes.

Easily brushed aside by favourite Leading Light in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan last time out and would appear to have little chance of turning that form around on worse terms unless he comes on a lot for his seasonal debut. Rating: 4/10.

SADDLER’S ROCK

Trainer: John Oxx. Jockey: William Buick.

Finished third in a weak renewal of this race in 2012 but was well behind Estimate last year on ground that should have suited, and his form this year is nothing short of awful. Has a lot to find. Rating: 1/10.

SIMENON

Trainer: Willie Mullins. Jockey: Frankie Dettori.

Only beaten just over a neck by Estimate last year but the anticipated progress from that run hasn’t happened and his form is definitely regressive. I’ve been a big fan of this Mullins charge in past Ascot trips but he is readily passed over on this occasion. Rating: 3/10.

TAC DE BOISTRON

Trainer: Marco Botti. Jockey: Martin Harley.

I wonder how much Mr Botti would pay for a downpour in the 24 hours before Thursday’s race. Would be my pick if the ground had cut in it, but since that seems unlikely, he misses out on a place on the shortlist. A doubt to run if there is no rain. Rating: 6/10.  (Would be 10/10 on soft ground).

HAVANA BEAT

Trainer: Andrew Balding. Jockey: David Probert.

A long way behind Leading Light in the St Leger last year and was put in his place in a handicap at Newmarket last time out. Tilting at windmills here. Rating: 1/10.

LEADING LIGHT

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Jockey: Joseph O’Brien.

His only defeat since his debut came in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October, a race he ran in only a few weeks after winning the St Leger in fine style. Conditions will suit leaving the trip as the only question mark, but that is a big enough doubt not to want to back him at such cramped odds. Rating: 8/10.

RALSTON ROAD

Trainer: John Patrick Shanahan. Jockey: Ronan Whelan.

Rallied gamely to dead-heat with the improving Clever Cookie in a York listed race last month but has been found out at higher levels before and, although he should stay, the longer trip is not assured to bring out any improvement. Rating: 2/10.

SHWAIMAN

Trainer: James Fanshawe. Jockey: Tom Queally.

Behind Ralston Road last time out and beaten in the Chester Cup earlier in May as well – that sums up his chances as one of the big outsiders in the field. Rating: 1/10.

ESTIMATE

Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute. Jockey: Ryan Moore.

Last year’s winner in very similar conditions, but the big concern here is coming into the race without a prep unlike 2013. A champion defending her crown for The Queen could just take the roof off Ascot’s lavish grandstand, but we think she might just miss out this year. Rating: 9/10.

MISSUNITED

Trainer: Michael Winters. Jockey: Jim Crowley.

Versatile mare who won the Galway Hurdle last summer and ran a couple of big races later in the flat season behind Tac De Boistron on ground that might not have suited as well. Conditions here will be much more suitable but she looks to be one of those in the ‘not quite good enough’ group. Rating: 6/10.

PALE MIMOSA

Trainer: Dermot Weld. Jockey: Pat Smullen.

Finished third behind Leading Light at Navan on her seasonal bow and should have conditions in her favour here. Of the bigger-priced runners, she looks to be the one with the most going for her as long as she stays. Rating: 7/10.

VERDICT:

Leading Light makes the market for the each-way punters out there, and although there is every chance he could turn this into a rout, is he much value at the prices given his lack of assured stamina? Looking for something at a bigger price, we like the make-up of German runner ALTANO, who was fifth last year after being set a lot too much to do. His jockey should have learned from that experience and he will be one of the few runners coming home strongly over this marathon trip. Last year’s winner Estimate should run another big race for The Queen and if the rain comes (which seems unlikely) the classy Tac De Boistron needs a serious look at.