Varian: Eldar Eldarov can reach greater heights in Gold Cup bid
In a bid for Gold Cup glory at Royal Ascot on Thursday, trainer Roger Varian believes that his four-year-old stayer, Eldar Eldarov, has not yet reached the ceiling of his ability. Eldar Eldarov secured Classic honours in the St Leger at Doncaster after winning last season’s Queen’s Vase. He lost little in defeat when finishing strongly to secure second place behind Giavellotto during last month’s Yorkshire Cup.
Since then, Varian has been delighted with his star horse and is excited to have such a strong contender for the two-and-a-half-mile feature race. It promotes horses like him; stayers who capture public imagination and demonstrate how staying races are making a comeback in recent years. The iconic Gold Cup race at Royal Ascot carries masses of history and there is always something nice about having a good staying horse like Eldar Eldarov as they could be around for two or three more years yet. As one of several Group One winners trained by Varian over recent years, he hopes that this will continue to be the case and that we can see more great contenders like him compete on these tracks soon. “His best days could very much be ahead of him,” says Varian. “So we are very much looking forward to running him in the Gold Cup.”
Eldar vs Coltrane: A battle between favourites
Eldar Eldarov disputes favouritism with Andrew Balding’s Coltrane; who won the Ascot Stakes 12 months ago before doubling his course tally with an impressive display in last month’s Sagaro Stakes. Three-time champion jockey Oisin Murphy will partner Coltrane and is relishing this opportunity as it looks set to be a hotly contested race. Eldar Eldarov is the St Leger winner and carries 1lb less, but there are other strong contenders to respect such as Aidan O’Brien’s Emily Dickinson and Broome.
Courage Mon Ami is an improver in the game and unbeaten in three starts for John and Thady Gosden. However, he faces a big rise in class as he bids to provide Frankie Dettori with his dream Gold Cup success before retirement. Willie Mullins will be represented by Grade One-winning hurdler Echoes In Rain as he looks to become the first trainer ever to win both Cheltenham Gold Cup & Royal Ascot’s Gold Cup in one year. The daughter of Authorized was last seen winning at Punchestown this May.
Subjectivist: From injury scare to comeback kid
Subjectivist won an impressive victory at the 2021 Gold Cup, but due to an injury that threatened his racing career, has only made two appearances since then; well-beaten on his return from almost two years off in Saudi Arabia but making a step forward when finishing third behind Broome during Dubai’s Gold Cup. Charlie Johnston’s six-year-old still poses a threat despite not being quite up-to-speed yet so it will be interesting how this plays out come race day! In conclusion, excitement is high ahead of what promises to be another fantastic renewal of The Royal Meeting’s feature event – The Ascot Gold Cup!