Sport

Kingfisher to strike Gold for trainer Aidan O'Brien

Red Hand

KINGFISHER can provide Aidan O’Brien with a record seventh success in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

Since saddling Yeats to win the staying crown four times between 2006 and 2009, the master of Ballydoyle has struck gold with Fame And Glory (2011) and Leading Light (2014), with all three horses already Group One winners at shorter distances before stepping up to two and a half miles.

Kingfisher has not yet managed to secure that top-level triumph, but has shown his worth in the best company, most notably filling the runner-up spot behind dual Classic winner Australia in last season’s Irish Derby.

The son of Galileo was then asked to tear off as a pacemaker for his esteemed stable companion in both the Juddmonte International at York and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, predictably folding on both occasions.

Those couple of efforts are clearly best forgotten and Kingfisher can be better judged on his two performances so far this season when he has been the number one hope from the yard.

The four-year-old was far from disgraced when fourth behind Gold Cup favourite Forgotten Rules in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan on his return to action, beaten a shade under eight lengths and looking badly in need of the run.

He stepped up markedly to win Leopardstown’s Saval Beg Stakes, a major Gold Cup trial, finishing powerfully over the mile-and-three-quarters to get up close home.

Kingfisher undoubtedly needs to improve again and is going into the unknown over the trip, but that is factored into his price and he is worth an each-way interest at rewarding odds.

King Of Rooks is widely regarded as one of the bankers of the week in the Norfolk Stakes and is difficult to oppose.

Richard Hannon’s youngster has improved massively since being beaten over the course and distance on debut, bolting up over six furlongs at Newbury before coming back to the minimum distance to claim Sandown’s National Stakes.

The form of that race was given a huge boost when the runner-up Buratino ran away with the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom on Derby day, making King Of Rooks look every inch a top-class juvenile.

King Of Rooks can perhaps be doubled up with Pleascach, who is likely to be similarly prohibitive odds in the Ribblesdale Stakes.

Jim Bolger’s filly could not have been more impressive in the Blue Wind Stakes at Naas on her penultimate start and she justified a brave call to bring her back to a mile by fending off hot favourite Found in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

She steps back up in distance for her latest assignment, but that should not be a major issue and she can claim another big-race success if she runs up to her mark.

Impressive London Gold Cup winner Time Test is a likely candidate for top honours in the Tercentenary Stakes, while Bartel gets the nod in the fiercely competitive Britannia Stakes.

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