Leading Light claimed a thrilling victory in Royal Ascot 2014's headline race on Thursday, winning by a neck over Estimate in second, with Missunited close in third.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained four-year-old was the well-backed favourite to win the Gold Cup prior to the two-mile and four-furlong race, and Joseph O'Brien made the punters happy as he rode to his first Gold Cup victory.
Missunited, a 40-1 shot, made the most of the running before last year's winner,fi Estimate. Leading Light and Michael Owen-owned Brown Panther joined the filly close to the finish.
While Brown Panther dropped off, Ryan Moore on the Queen-owned Estimate and O'Brien stayed on, with Leading Light eventually prevailing for Aidan O'Brien's sixth Gold Cup.
Here are the top finishers of this year's Gold Cup in Berkshire, which finished in thrilling fashion:
|1||Leading Light||10-11f||Joseph O'Brien||Aidan O'Brien|
|2||Estimate||8-1||Ryan Moore||Sir Michael Stoute|
|3||Missunited||40-1||Jim Crowley||Michael Winters|
Leading Light was the hot favourite before the race, having lost only once since debut, with Brown Panther also fancied in the betting at 9-2 odds.
Estimate—owned by the Queen and trained by Sir Michael Stoute—started as the third favourite to claim back-to-back Gold Cups, having not raced since last October.
Her Majesty's racing manager John Warren—and numerous connections—had warned beforehand that expectations were not high, with a third-place finish hoped, per Sky Sports:
Estimate had a slow start in her preparation due to some tweaked muscles that prevented her from running in the Sagaro Stakes.
It has been a little frustrating not to get a prep race into her, but she's trained by Sir Michael Stoute and if there is anyone who can get her there without the benefit of a prep race he's the man to do it.
Perhaps with better preparation Estimate could have gone on to claim a famous victory, but that should not take away from a fantastic ride from Moore.
Missunited's third-place result was also a stunning ride, but the quality shown from Leading Light illustrated the horse, the jockey and the trainer were all worth the hype.
Brown Panther eventually finished in fourth, with last year's runner-up in Simenon—ridden by Frankie Dettori—close behind in fifth.
This year's Gold Cup truly lived up to the billing for the crowds on Ladies Day, as most of the top horses put in great performances, with the much-fancied Leading Light just staying on for a superb win.
Full race result can be found at SportingLife.com.
Odds courtesy of the Racing Post.