Royal Ascot: Runaway Gold Cup favourite might not even show up

Dermot Weld’s unbeaten five-year-old Forgotten Rules made it four victories from four starts under rules at Navan over the weekend, winning by one-and-three-quarter lengths at 8/11 ahead of 9/4 second favourite Answered, despite giving weight all round in an eight-runner field.

The Galway trainer was thrilled with the Nayaf gelding’s seasonal reappearance, describing the 1m6f Vintage Crop Stakes as a ‘proper race’ and the runner-up ‘a very good horse who had the benefit of a previous run and was getting 5lb’.

Forgotten Rules is Ladbrokes’ runaway 2/1 favourite to emulate Fame And Glory and Leading Light, each of whom took this Group 3 en route to winning Royal Ascot’s Gold Cup a month later, but Weld’s words regarding the prestigious 2m4f stayers’ race should chill favourite backers.

The 66-year-old said on Sunday:

“The Ascot Gold Cup is the logical step but there is one caveat – he would never want ground that is any way firm.”

That quote should be seen as a huge note of caution for Forgotten Rules backers, as 13 of the past 15 runnings of the Gold Cup have been over good-to-firm ground.

Only twice this century, in 2011 and 2012, has the surface in Berkshire had any kind of give in it, coming up good-to-soft on both occasions.

Forgotten Rules has an impressive Ascot victory over 2m in his back catalogue from Champions Day in October, seeing off the likes of Leading Light and Estimate, the last two Gold Cup winners, with relative ease.

However, that was achieved over bottomless ground, and he is yet to even attempt a run on anything better than good.

At this juncture, Forgotten Rules looks as likely as not to sit out Royal Ascot. You’d be mad to back him at 2/1.

For an alternative, last year’s third Brown Panther ranks as the best bet at present at 8/1.


Brown Panther wins the Dubai Gold Cup in March

Tom Dascombe’s globetrotter, part-owned by Michael Owen, found 1m6f a tad too sharp under a penalty on his first start in England since November at York last week, but Brown Panther has won and placed in two runs at Royal Ascot, and seems much more likely to go there than the favourite.

Owen said after the loss to Snow Sky:

“His penalty has cost him in the end. We’re obviously disappointed but not sickened. The next race will be the Ascot Gold Cup.”

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Iain Houten

Iain has been contributing pieces to various websites on an array of subjects, including sports, politics and art, for over four years. Despite blue being his favourite colour, the teams he supports all wear red.