Leading Light clear at the head of Ascot Gold Cup market
The son of Montjeu, now 2/1 favourite for one of the royal highlights in June, looked close to his peak despite Aidan O’Brien saying he would require the run and the Ballydoyle handler wasn’t able to hide his delight at the performance.
“You’d have to be very happy with that, I couldn’t be happier. He had strengthened up over the winter and has been doing all the right things. He has progressed lovely.”
The four-year-old was last seen when beating only five home in the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the last campaign and concerns over how well Leading Light had recovered after those excursions were reflected in his easy-to-back even money starting price.
However, those doubts were allowed to linger only briefly as when asked by Joseph O’Brien to quicken he did so in his familiar long-striding fashion, putting Johnny Murtagh’s Royal Diamond to the sword at the furlong pole, stretching away to win by three lengths.
There seem to be no concerns over whether the market leader will struggle with the step up to two and a half miles having never raced beyond the 16 furlongs he successfully navigated in Ascot’s Queen Vase last year.
The winning rider beamed: “He’s very laid-back so that will give him every chance…he’ll be a lovely ride in the Gold Cup.”
O’Brien snr mentioned a trip to Leopardstown for the June 6th Saval Beg could be in store but whether they decide to run again before Ascot is unlikely to affect the popularity of Leading Light on the day of the big race even with the field brimming with proven and endearing storylines.
Last year’s winner and the Queen’s own Estimate (6/1) is set to come to Berkshire the freshest of them all with his first race of the season set to be his defence.
While Sagaro Stakes winner and recent Yorkshire Cup runner-up, Tac De Boistron (7/1), will also not be short of supporters considering his course form and the possibility of being reunited with Frankie Dettori.
Brown Panther (10/1) will also be of keen interest to the fair weather racegoers on track as he runs in the colours of football royalty in that of ex-England striker Michael Owen.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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