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The Queen’s Estimate heads biggest Gold Cup field since the Second World War

18 Jun 2013

The country will have a its fingers crossed on Thursday when Her Majesty The Queen's four-year-old filly, Estimate, goes to post for Europe's most important race for stayers, the Gold Cup.

Can Rite Of Passage, seen here after his QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup triumph last October, beat The Queen’s filly, Estimate, in the Gold Cup? Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

Eighteen horses have been declared for the Gold Cup, the biggest field since the Second World War in the oldest and most historic race of the week.

It looks a wide open contest with most of the country having their fingers crossed for Estimate, owned by The Queen.

The filly won The Queen’s Vase over two miles at Royal Ascot last year and the way she has run her races, Thursday’s extra half mile is likely to suit.

Having won the Longines Sagaro Stakes  at Ascot on her seasonal reappearance last month, she looks a very worthy favourite for Her Majesty.

This time she’s taking on the best, however, and there are plenty of others in with chances.

Rite Of Passage knows what it takes to win a Gold Cup having triumphed in 2010.

Plagued by injury, he has only raced twice in the last three years, the latest being a pulsating victory in the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot last October.

Trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld, a master at preparing a horse for a big race, he has to have a serious chance and the three other Irish challengers are also worth a mention.

Saddler’s Rock was a close third in this race last year and then won the Artemis Goodwood Cup, but has not matched that level of form since; Simenon won twice at Royal Ascot last year – a handicap and the Queen Alexandra Stakes – but that form does not look strong enough; and Aidan O’Brien, who has won the race five times in the last seven years, saddles El Salvador, but on form he has a lot to find.

Colour Vision, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, won last year’s Gold Cup but then went off the boil and now has something to prove, while Times Up was always considered best on a flat track by his former trainer, John Dunlop.

Bigger threats may come from the French and German raiders.

The French trio of Top Trip, a close second in the QIPCO Yorkshire Cup last month for trainer Francois Doumen, Vadamar and Last Train all have the class to go close, while the best of German trainer Andreas Wohler’s duo looks to be Altano, the choice of his stable jockey. He can’t be ruled out.

High Jinx is one horse absolutely guaranteed to appreciate the extreme stamina test.

He was runner-up in two QIPCO British Champions Series races last year, both times beaten by Times Up, but he got much closer the second time over 2¼ miles.

The extra quarter mile on Thursday will suit and he has been brought along quietly by trainer James Fanshawe, who rates him highly and who always saw this as the big season for this horse.

With luck in running, which every horse will need in a field of this size, he must have a good chance.

In the last nine runnings, six victories have gone to Ireland and one to France, while the only British-based trainer to win it in that time has been Saeed bin Suroor with two victories.