Estimate takes Gold Cup test

Michael Stoute is well aware that Queen Elizabeth’s filly Estimate faces the toughest test of her career in today’s Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

The four-year-old daughter of Monsun has won three of her six career starts and heads to the two-and-a-half-mile test as one of the least experienced members of the 18-runner field.

Nevertheless, she is a likely favourite having provided her owner with a win at the meeting last year in the Queen’s Vase and she also impressed on her seasonal reappearance.

Sent to the Sagaro Stakes over two miles at Ascot, Estimate ran out an impressive winner but she faces an extra half-mile and much sterner opposition this time.

Stoute is aiming for his second win in the prestigious race, having scored way back in 1978 with Shangamuzo.

“Her preparation has gone well,” said Stoute.

“She enjoys Ascot, but this is much tougher than anything she has encountered before.”

John Oxx's Saddler's Rock should possibly have a few more big-race wins on his CV than just the Doncaster and Goodwood Cups.

Not a horse seemingly blessed with a huge amount of luck, he was third in this race last year on unsuitably soft ground and things went badly wrong in the Dubai Gold Cup in March.

Smartly away under Declan McDonogh, his saddle soon slipped and his rider was unable to ride any kind of finish, doing well in the end to be as close as he was.

Oxx said: “He’s been in good form. He got off to a great start in Dubai – he was in great shape there but then the saddle slipped when he was in the form of his life.

“It might not have been an ideal prep for him and he has to go there without a recent run, but hopefully it will work out and he’ll run well.

“He’s going well this year. He’s been in better shape all round. Hopefully we’ll have a good summer with him.”

Oxx is pleased he decided not to run Saddler’s Rock in the Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown earlier this month.

“The Saval Beg used to be a better trial for the Gold Cup, but it’s just 13 days beforehand now and is a bit too close,” he said.

“It’s fine if you don’t get too hard a race as a prep run, but it would have been a tough enough race close to the Gold Cup so we’re happy we missed it.”

Willie Mullins' Simenon went into the history books in 12 months ago when winning twice during Royal week, in the Ascot Stakes and Queen Alexandra Stakes.

He was last seen finishing as well as anything to be fourth in the Chester Cup, having been saddled with an unfavourable draw.

His rider Johnny Murtagh told At The Races: “I was very impressed with him at Chester. We had a bad draw and we got a bit blocked on the inside, but I was very impressed with the way he finished.

“He likes Ascot, I know the Gold Cup is a step up from what he has been doing - he needs to improve seven or eight pounds – but he’s the kind of horse that could do it.

“Ascot is a demanding track but he likes it. If he gets a nice run, he stays well.

“It’s competitive, but he’ll have to improve to be involved.”

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