Light switched on in Gold Cup thriller

Hot favourite Leading Light narrowly denied defending champion Estimate in a pulsating climax to the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot yesterday.

Light switched on in Gold Cup thriller

Last year’s Queen’s Vase and St Leger hero Leading Light was all the rage for the two-and-a-half-mile Group One, having made a winning return to action in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan last month.

The four-year-old was under the pump from the home turn in the hands of Joseph O’Brien, son of trainer Aidan, but stuck to his guns admirably to fend off Estimate by a neck, with the front-running Missunited a gallant third.

Estimate’s preparation for the defence of her crown did not go smoothly and as a result, Michael Stoute’s mare was making her first start since October.

The five-year-old travelled powerfully for a long way and appeared to have most of her rivals covered on the home turn, but crucially, she was kept in by Leading Light and had to go for a run up the inside.

When the gap came, Estimate fought on bravely, but 10-11 favourite was just too strong.

Last year’s Galway Hurdle heroine Missunited was a 40-1 shot taking a significant step up in class and benefited from a superbly-judged ride from the front by Jim Crowley.

She appeared to have cut loose shortly before the turn for home, but although she gave her all in the closing stages, she was eventually run out of it and had to make do with minor honours, just a short head further back.

Joseph O'Brien said: `”`When you win it is always a good ride, there's no such thing as a bad winning ride. I kept a straight line, Ryan (Moore, on Estimate) was looking for a bit of room but I was entitled to keep a straight line.

“He had a little look when he got to the front and then went a bit to his left, he’s a big, lazy horse but I think he’s better at a mile and six.”

Aidan O’Brien, winning the race for the sixth time, said: “We were worried about two and half miles as he’s out of a Queen Mary winner. He’s a horse we thought could go back to a King George maybe, but he was up there for the last half a mile and after two miles you never know what is going to happen.”

Missunited’s trainer Michael Winters said: “She’s such a game mare and she never ceases to amaze me. Jim gave her a great ride.

“We’ll keep her going now. I’ve got Galway on my mind, but I’ll talk to the owners first.”

Bracelet could head for the Darley Irish Oaks after sparkling for trainer Aidan O’Brien in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The filly had not raced since running poorly in the Qipco 1000 Guineas but her handler’s patience was duly rewarded with a notable success.

O’Brien decided to discount the Irish equivalent as well as the Investec Oaks to give her more time and it paid off as she bounced back to form when stepped up to a mile and a half.

Fitted with a hood on the track for the first time, Bracelet (10-1) looked a class act as she powered to victory by half a length from Lustrous after O’Brien’s other runner Terrific had made the running.

O’Brien, recording his first success of the week, said: “After the Guineas we could have gone for the Irish Guineas and then the Epsom Oaks, but we decided to give her more time and Ryan (Moore) said after Newmarket that a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half would suit her well.

“We thought we’d come here and we’re delighted.

“Some of the horses have been running in and out. They were all under the weather in the spring. Some came back well and some didn’t, yet everything seemed right.

“I suppose we’ll have to look at the Irish Oaks now.”

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