Take Flight in Britannia
Man On The Spot previews day three of Royal Ascot featuring the Gold Cup.
The owner, trainer and jockey of Baitha Alga have already tasted success this week and the Fast Company colt has been showing terrific speed over 6f. The Woodcote Stakes winner is a threat to all, despite dropping in trip, but THE GREAT WAR should take all the beating. The Ballydoyle colt has won both starts without coming off the bridle and can pass his stiffest test to date with flying colours. Mukhmal did well to win the Lily Agnes at Chester from a wide draw after making a winning debut at Musselburgh and is clearly smart. He shouldn't be ignored but the remainder have it all to do, though Mind Of Madness was given plenty to do when fancied for the Windsor Castle here on Tuesday.
Barley Mow beat MUTAKAYYEF by a neck over this trip at Newmarket last month with joint favourites Postponed and Cloudscape further behind. He can probably be forgiven a subsequent run in a Listed race at Goodwood on account of the soft ground and must go well. But William Haggas' colt has won since at Sandown and is fancied to turn the tables here as he was undoubtedly hampered by Richard Hannon's charge at HQ and may have the greater scope. Somewhat was placed in a couple of Group 2 races last year but hasn't really improved this season and may find the ground too lively. Stormardal has a bit to find at the weights and Cannock Chase and Spark Plug both step out of handicap company butObliterator is better than he showed in the Irish 2000 Guineas and could figure over the longer trip.
Vazira lost her unbeaten record in a Group 1 at Longchamp last month but gives every indication she'll relish this longer trip. The Aga Khan's filly is certainly one for the short-list but Inchila hasn't had much time to recover from an excellent fourth in the Oaks at Epsom and is a little one-paced. The Park Hill at Doncaster in September might be a more realistic target. Newmarket maiden winner Wonderstruck is interesting upped in grade while Bright Approach got going too late in the Cheshire Oaks and also still has plenty of scope. York winner Lustrous should stay and Italian Oaks heroine Final Score is still unbeaten. BRACELET didn't have the pace to get competitive in the 1000 Guineas but she wasn't disgraced and this should be much more to her liking. The Ballydoyle filly can bounce back here and Joseph prefers her to Terrific.
Estimate has reportedly been working well in preparation for the defence of her staying crown. The Queen's mare will love the drying ground but faces high-class opposition including last year's St Leger winner Leading Light, who made a winning reappearance at Navan when easily beating today's rivals Royal Diamond, Pale Momosa and Saddler's Rock. Simenon was only beaten a neck last year but arrives out of sorts and more interesting is German raider ALTANO. He was only fifth 12 months ago but was finishing best of all having trailed entering the straight and would have gone close had he not met interference. He went on to beat the very useful Tac De Boistron over 2m4f in the Prix Du Cadran at Longchamp, though Marco Botti's grey did reverse that form in the Prix Royal-Oak later and has been impressive in both runs this year. Michael Owen's Brown Panther is back to his best but has come up short in Group 1 races in the past, though did beat Ahzeemah and the selection in last year's Goodwood Cup.
A maximum field on the straight mile will almost certainly split into two groups and any selection is going to need luck in-running. Four of the last seven winners have started at 20/1 or longer so the market isn't necessarily a good guide, though there has also been some gambles landed in the past. Kieren Fallon's mount FIRST FLIGHT could have a good draw in stall one and gets a tentative vote. He finished behind Chatez and Zarwaan at Haydock last month but today's quicker surface should be in his favour and he's also better off at the weights. Hors De Combatquickened nicely to beat Born In Bombay and Lyn Valley at Newmarket and also deserves a mention. Easy Kempton winner Idea may still be a step ahead of the handicapper but Table Rock is shooting up the weights and will surely struggle to reverse Limerick form with Third Dimensionon worse terms. Ger Lyons' gelding has a chance if handling conditions' however, and both Richard Hannon and Mark Johnston are mob-handed. The latter's Ifwecan won easily at Mussselburgh 12 days ago, though has a lot more on his plate in this.
Mark Johnston often targets this race and has won it four times since the turn of the century. He has a quartet in the line-up this year and FIRE FIGHTING, who is likely to be prominent from the outset, can come good for the Middleham supremo again as he is fancied to reverse last month's Haydock running with Wrangler and Black Schnapps on better terms. Stablemate Alex My Boy might also have been interesting had he been better drawn while a wide berth has also made things difficult for the likes of Windshear and Captain Morley. Elite Army was behind Windshear at Sandown in April but then beat Gold Trail at the Esher track. Godolphin are also represented by Personal Opinion and he's weighted to reverse Newbury running with Arab Dawn, who has gone up 10lb since completing his hat-trick at Kempton. Art Of War only won by a short-head at Ripon last time but gives every indication this longer trip will suit and he could be well handicapped. Carlo Bugatti tackles his first handicap but will have to be smart to defy top weight.