Gold Cup a close call

Connections of Brown Panther were not ruling out a second tilt at the Emirates Melbourne Cup after another heroic performance at Royal Ascot overnight.

Retired England soccer star Michael Owen was still brimming with pride in his home-bred galloper, who showed up for a long way in the Gold Cup (4000m) and was eventually beaten around five lengths into fourth behind Leading Light.

The Group 1 prize, perhaps the most famous and prestigious event of the five-day meeting, again delivered a thrilling finish.

The Queen’s celebrations when Estimate claimed a neck victory over Simenon 12 months earlier were beamed around the world and despite not having the benefit of a lead-up run this time around, she was beaten by exactly the same distance.

Jockey Ryan Moore had been required to switch Estimate further inside for a run at the 400 and his mount rallied but could not quite match the staying power of Leading Light, winner of last year’s St Leger (2800m).

Brown Panther, who suffered an injury when struck into during his eighth-placed finish at Flemington, had been the first to challenge the positively-ridden leader Missunited, but faded under Richard Kingscote in the closing stages.

Last year’s Melbourne Cup fourth Simenon produced his best effort in some time to snatch fifth spot.

“He has been beaten by better horses but has still made us immensely proud,” said joint-owner Owen.

“He always tries his best and has the heart of a lion. This was his big target for the first half of the season.

“The Melbourne Cup is an option, as we had a great experience there last year. It’s something we’ll have to sit down and discuss.

“There are plenty of options, like the Goodwood Cup and the Irish St Leger, and the race back here on Champions Day.”

Trainer Tom Dascombe added: “We’ve just been beaten in a Group 1 so we need to go home and think about it. We are deflated, but he has done his best and that’s all he can do.”

Aidan O’Brien is now the winning-most trainer in Gold Cup history after making it six and Leading Light may now be dropped to 2400 metres for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes back at Ascot in late July.

John Warren, the Queen’s bloodstock advisor, said of Estimate: “It was tremendous, she was so brave and the Queen got such pleasure from it.

“The strange thing was last year no one clapped in the Royal Box. They all just said well done to the Queen. Everyone clapped this year afterwards. That says it all.

“Prince Philip said ‘my goodness that was a good race’. It was great. A real thrill all round.”

Fugue lands Prince Of Wales Stakes

Treve was billed as the star turn on day two of Royal Ascot 2014 only for another filly to take centre stage as The Fugue eclipsed the brilliant Arc heroine in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.

There was no doubting Treve’s popularity as she was sent off the 8/13 favourite, but the Criquette Head-Maarek-trained filly failed to fire and was beaten just under three lengths into third.

While Frankie Dettori tried in desperation to conjure a rally from his mount down the home stretch in the 2000-metre Group One, William Buick was travelling powerfully aboard The Fugue and she whizzed clear to collect by a length-and-three-quarters from Magician.

The Fugue, trained by John Gosden and owned by musical impresario Andrew Lloyd-Webber, was returning from a rare off day in the Dubai Duty Free in March and showed her true worth by shaving half a second off the track record.

Gosden, who also saddled Kingman to victory in the St James’s Palace Stakes on Tuesday, said: “It’s lovely to win the two big races. I actually walked down with the Princess Royal and said there’s something interesting about this race – it’s all about girl power with Treve and this filly.

“The trip toDubaiand training in the winter did not work, but The Fugue has come back. She was like a little bud – she went tight but now she has flowered and she looked great.

“Now we can go for theNassauat Glorious Goodwood and we could go for the Eclipse at Sandown next month which comes close, but she did not have the hardest of races today and William was under the strictest instructions, not that he needed to be told, that he could flick her – no more than that.”

Head-Maarek said that Treve would be stepped back up to 2400 metres after her second reverse of the season, but did not blame the quick ground conditions for the defeat.

She said: “Frankie didn’t think her action was right and she didn’t look right going to the start.

“He didn’t think the ground was a problem, but he did feel the longer distance would suit her better. Her action was not right, but I don’t know why. Maybe we will discover something when we get home.

“I had problem with her feet not long ago, but it seemed as though everything was fine again. We’ll have to see.”

Mukhadram finished runner-up last year and took fourth this time, with William Haggas’s five-year-old having recently received an invite to the Sportingbet Cox Plate on October 25th.

Haggas said: “It is nice to be considered for the race but we need to get home and reflect on this run before making a decision on future plans.”

Sonntag Delivers Dwyer’s Maiden Group 1

Victorian galloper Sonntag delivered his up-and-coming young trainer Henry Dwyer his first Group 1 victory on Saturday when winning the BRC Queensland Derby over 2400m at Eagle Farm.

The win gave Australian sired runners the feat of taking out every Derby conducted this season in Australasia; Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart, Perth, Adelaide, Auckland and Brisbane.

Sonntag (Teofilo x Parfaits) was running for more than just his normal connections, with the ownership group agreeing to donate 5% of any prizemoney earned in the Derby to Riding For The Disabled Victoria.

Good luck shined on Saturday, as Chad Schofield guided the three-year-old to a neck victory over Pinstripe Lane and the fast finishing Vilanova.

“I am just wrapped to be here and I am just really pleased to share that with some good friends and great people,” said trainer Henry Dwyer.

“I said to the owners before he even raced for us that I thought he would stay and best case scenario we’d have a runner in the Queensland Derby. It turns out that he has just jumped every obstacle and here we are today.”

Dwyer, who has only been training in his own right for 11 months, purchased Sonntag as a tried horse from Darley’s draft at the 2013 Inglis Melbourne August Thoroughbred Sale for $58,000.

“I have had success with tried horses previously. Darley horses have some of the best pedigrees and confirmation around so you just know that you are guaranteed a class animal,” Dwyer told Racing Victoria earlier in the week.

“He had shown potential in three starts for Darley and gave me the impression that he may develop into a nice staying type, as he is such a naturally athletic horse, and we managed to pick him up for $58,000.

“I gelded him straight away but he then had a few issues, in fact he got very sick there for a while but that may have proven a blessing in disguise as it meant that I have had to take my time with him.

“There is a lovely group of owners involved, some are having their first experience in racehorse ownership, and they want to share that enjoyment as much as possible,” added the 30-year-old.

Connections will certainly enjoy the $320,000 first place prizemoney from today’s Derby – of which $13,600 will go to the much deserved Riding For The Disabled Victoria.