THREE decades after Luca Cumani first tried to win the Ascot Gold Cup, the top trainer hopes to join the blue riband race’s roll of honour courtesy of the progressive Mizzou.
A winner at both Pontefract and Doncaster last season, the firm ground conditions are likely to play to the strengths of the four-year-old as he takes on lightly-raced favourite Forgotten Rules from the yard of legendary Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Dermot Weld whose Free Eagle won yesterday’s feature.
Other significant contenders include Ed Dunlop’s Trip To Paris, who won at Ripon earlier in the campaign and is the mount of former jump jockey Graham Lee, who never actually managed to win National Hunt racing’s Gold Cup when plying his trade over obstacles.
However, Mizzou won an informative renewal of the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot at the end of April – he beat the well-regarded Vent De Force, who reopposes today – and jockey William Buick is a significant booking.
“Mizzou has been in good form since he won the Sagaro. I decided that he didn’t need another run to get him to his peak for the Gold Cup,” said Italian-born Cumani. “Fast ground would not be a problem as that is what he won on in the Sagaro. But the two-and-a-half-mile trip is the big imponderable.
“His style of racing – he is so relaxed – suggests that he has every chance of getting it, as does his breeding.
“I thought ever since he was a close third in a Listed race at Ascot last October that he could be a Gold Cup horse. He’s a straightforward colt and his development over the winter was very good. Like all Group Ones, winning the Gold Cup would mean a great deal. I have been second in it twice before, with Arzanni (in 1991) and Eastern Mystic (in 1986) but that was back in the midsts of time!”
On Ladies Day, Peacock would be a popular winner of the 10-furlong Tercentenary Stakes for three-year-olds. Trained by champion trainer Richard Hannon, the colt is owned by the Queen and the form is solid – the only rival to have got the better of the Royal runner in three races this season was subsequent Epsom Derby hero Golden Horn.
It could be a red letter day for Hannon, who insists it is difficult to split King Of Rooks and Log Out Island ahead of the five-furlong Norfolk Stakes.
King Of Rooks is odds-on favourite after slamming Tuesday’s Coventry Stakes winner Buratino is some style in last month’s National Stakes at Sandown while Log Out Island is second in the betting on the back of a runaway debut success over the course and distance in late April when he also had Buratino behind him.
Meanwhile, Wetherby trainer Richard Guest – the former Grand National-winning jockey – harbours hopes of a first Royal Ascot victory courtesy of Udododontu in the Britannia Stakes. The horse will be ridden by Yorkshire-based former champion apprentice Jason Hart, one of the most under-rated riders in the country.