O’Brien and Leading Light Exceptional in Gold Cup
Both winning jockey and horse excelled in the Ascot Gold Cup, as Joseph O’Brien guided Leading Light to a neck victory in the illustrious Group 1.
The St Leger winner was sent off the heavily supported 10/11 odds-on favourite and showed huge determination and class to provide trainer Aidan O’Brien with a record sixth Gold Cup win at Royal Ascot.
Positioned in midfield the son of Montjeu travelled well in the early stages, off a decent pace set by fellow Irish raider Missuinted. As Jim Crowley upped the pace aboard Missunited turning for home, the market leaders went in pursuit, most notably Ryan Moore travelling strongly on last year’s winner Estimate who was having her first run of the season.
As Moore angled for a run, Joseph O’Brien displayed some exceptional race riding and refused to allow him out forcing Estimate to switch to the inside.
Leading Light who was racing over the two-and-a-half mile trip for the first time, saw out the trip really well and ran on under strong pressure to win by a neck from Estimate, with Missunited a short-head away in third for trainer Mick Winters.
Joseph O’Brien said: “When you win it is always a good ride, there’s no such thing as a bad winning ride. I kept a straight line, Ryan (Moore, on Estimate) was looking for a bit of room but I was entitled to keep a straight line.
“He had a little look when he got to the front and then went a bit to his left, he’s a big, lazy horse but I think he’s better at a mile and six.
“I was rowing away on him but I had loads left, I was trying to hold off asking for everything for as long as I could. Ryan gave me a bit of help by coming up my inside as he pushed me along a bit – this fellow is as tough as nails.”
Aidan O’Brien, winning the race for the sixth time, said: “He’s idle, but he was in a lovely position and settled well. He was very lazy when he got there. Joseph was trying to keep him with company.
“We were worried about two and half miles as he’s out of a Queen Mary winner. He’s a horse we thought could go back to a King George maybe, but he was up there for the last half a mile and after two miles you never know what is going to happen.
I’m so lucky to have the horses and work with the people that I do, I’m in a very lucky position and the lads have unbelievable horses with unbelievable pedigrees and it (Ballydoyle) is an unbelievable place to train from.”
By Joseph Smyth
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