Queen Elizabeth II’s mare Estimate almost landed back-to-back victories in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot yesterday, but found Leading Light just too strong in the dying stages of the race, eventually going down a neck to the Aidan O’Brien-trained four-year-old.
Niggling his mount before the home turn, jockey Joseph O’Brien responded as Estimate, ridden by Ryan Moore, manoeuvred into position as the bend unfolded.
Estimate came alongside on Leading Light’s inner, going slightly better and apparently bound to take a vital advantage, but O’Brien kept Estimate from pulling around the weakening Brown Panther.
Leading Light enjoyed a clear run on the outside. He wandered left before straightening in the final furlong, but did enough to prevail by a neck and a short-head from Estimate and Missunited.
The Queen and many family members were present, including the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne, the Countess of Wessex, Prince Harry, and Prince Andrew and his two daughters.
Estimate had had a reduced preparation, and her connections were delighted with her run. “We really couldn’t ask for more,” The Queen’s racing manager John Warren said.
“It was tremendous and the Queen got such pleasure out of it. She was so brave and to see her put in such a tremendous effort like that was tremendous. Ryan said it was a career best – she ran as good as you could have ever hoped.
“Having no prep, all the things going against her and for her to run that well. She lost nothing in defeat really, she is so game.”
Winning trainer Aiden O’Brien said after the race: “I was confident until I knew what The Queen’s horse had been doing. The information was strong and it was right. I got a cold sweat on my back. The Queen was an absolute lady and we were sorry that her filly was second. A staying filly to be doing the work she was doing, she must be a very special filly – someone told Joseph but I better not say who! We have a tough young colt and he just found a little bit at the end. I could not believe that Joseph was able to keep him going and the rules are the rules – a jockey can only drive a horse so far. We will wait and see with Leading Light now.”
Following a stewards enquiry after the race, Joseph O’Brien was found to be in breach of Schedule (B)6 Part 2 in that he used his whip above the permitted level. The stewards suspended O’Brien for seven days from July 3 to July 9, and fined him £3000.
Missunited’s rider Jim Crowley was suspended for four days, from July 3, for using his whip above the permitted level.
The stewards also noted that the Gold Cup winner, Leading Light, had interfered with Brown Panther (placed 4th), who then interfered with Estimate (placed 2nd), who then interfered with Missunited (placed 3rd) approaching the furlong market. After viewing a recording of the incident, they were satisfied that it neither involved a riding offence nor improved Leading Light’s position.
O’Brien was suspended for another two days for using his whip above the permitted level on seventh-placed Carlo Bugatti in the King George V Handicap.