The money continues to pour in for Her Majesty The Queen’s Estimate in the Ascot Gold Cup – with 9/2 the latest checkpoint on her price plunge – but away from the headlines there has been another runner quietly coming in for support who has the all the assets to spoil the Royal party.
Cast your mind back a little more than 12 months and National Hunt trainer Donald McCain was reigning on the flat trainers’ parade by nicking the Chester Cup for a second successive year courtesy of Il De Re.
Fast-forward a little further to Royal Ascot 2012 and you come to another Jumps handler pinching top flat stayers’ gongs with Willie Mullins and his sometime hurdler Simenon pinching not one, but two staying prizes at last year’s meeting.
Both of those successes came by six lengths or more and the second – in the Queen Alexandra Stakes – saw him beat Zuider Zee (then in the care of John Gosden) by eight-and-three-quarter lengths. The same opponent had finished just three lengths behind last Opinion Poll on his previous start and that one went on to place a painfully close second in that year’s Gold Cup.
Given he’d come in to last year’s Royal meeting on the back of a 15-length hurdles win, Simenon had questions to answer ahead of his flat campaign after a relatively moderate season over timber. Mullins couldn’t have asked for a better riposte from his six-year-old in his first run back on the level in this year’s Chester Cup.
Running off equal top-weight in the fiercely contested 2m2f handicap, Simenon defied a stall 14 draw – a major impediment round a notoriously tight track like the Roodee – and overcame hampering as he entered the straight to power home under Johnny Murtagh, finishing just a-length-and-a-quarter behind winner Address Unknown in fourth.
Having been off the track since December prior to that outing, he can be expected to improve for the run and should enter each-way calculations for the day three feature at the very least.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date