BILL ESDAILE PREVIEWS THE GOLD CUP AND TERCENTENARY STAKES
Trainer Dermot Weld will walk the course this morning to decide whether the ground is safe enough to allow favourite Forgotten Rules to take his chance in this afternoon’s Gold Cup (4.20pm).
The lightly-raced five-year-old son of Nayef has had well-documented problems with his legs over the years and, even though the clerk of the course has promised to water overnight, it has to be extremely doubtful that he’ll line-up.
His potential absence takes some gloss off the feature race of the day. He would have been the one they all had to beat if the word ‘soft’ had appeared anywhere in the going description.
Plenty will switch their allegiances to the Luca Cumani-trained Mizzou now. He ran out an emphatic winner of the Sagaro Stakes at this track back in April, seeing off another of today’s rivals Vent De Force with relative ease.
He showed no sign of stopping that day and the extra half mile should prove no problem. Vent De Force has boosted the form since by winning the Henry II Stakes at Sandown, and the pair are both serious players this afternoon.
However, at 9/2 and 8/1 respectively, and Forgotten Rules still named as 5/2 favourite, those prices are set to collapse. There may well be better value further down the list.
Simenon, whose trainer Willie Mullins saddled Clondaw Warrior to win Tuesday’s Ascot Stakes, finished runner-up to Estimate in this race two years ago. He was then fifth 12 months ago and, even though this is a weaker renewal, he may just be on the downgrade.
French-raider Bathyrhon was a big disappointment in Dubai. He has no stamina concerns, but I’m worried the ground will be too quick.
Aidan O’Brien’s Kingfisher may well improve dramatically for the step up in trip and should also handle the conditions. In fact, if TRIP TO PARIS hadn’t been supplemented for this marathon contest he’d have been my selection.
But Ed Dunlop’s rapidly improving four-year-old won the Betway Chester Cup on his penultimate start and stepped up again when chasing home Vent De Force at Sandown. He didn’t get the clearest of passages that day and really flew at the death when the gaps opened.
He is one of the only runners in this afternoon’s contest who will relish both trip and ground, and looks the value call at around 12/1. He will be a fair bit shorter if Forgotten Rules comes out.
TRIP TO PARIS e/w 4.20pm Ascot