El Habeeb connections have reason for cautious optimism in Gold Cup

Kevin Philippart De Foy is happy to roll the dice with El Habeeb in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

The four-year-old ran with credit in both the Derby – when only once-raced at the time with Stan Moore – and the St Leger last season, and proved his class when beating subsequent Yorkshire Cup winner Giavellotto in the Listed Noel Murless Stakes.

De Foy has stepped his charge up to two miles this term, a move which saw him finish fifth in the Dubai Gold Cup before placing third in Ascot’s Sagaro Stakes.

The Sagaro winner, Andrew Balding’s Coltrane, is the 3-1 favourite for the Gold Cup, with El Habeeb a best-priced 25-1 shot despite having only five lengths to find.

Philippart De Foy feels his colt merits his place in the field for the two-and-a-half-mile showpiece.

He said: “At the moment that (Gold Cup) is the plan. He ran well in the Sagaro. He’s fairly well one paced and doesn’t have that change of gear he needed at Ascot to go and pick up the second.

“The winner was quite impressive and he deserves to be the favourite, but I thought we were a little bit unlucky on the inside and I think we deserve to be there.

“He settles very well at any pace and he always stays on in his races. He wouldn’t have the biggest stride, but he keeps galloping all day, so I don’t think the distance will be an issue.

“The form of his last few races stacks up well. He’s got plenty to find to be competitive, but I think he will be competitive for a place.”

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