Eldar Eldarov ready to step up for Gold Cup challenge

Eldar Eldarov will be bidding for a second successive Royal Ascot success in next week’s Gold Cup following his narrow verdict in the Queen’s Vase 12 months ago.

Roger Varian’s four-year-old also claimed the St Leger in a fruitful season and returned to action in the Yorkshire Cup when narrowly failing to reel in Giavellotto, to whom he was conceding 5lb.

He will be running over a trip further than two miles for the first time in his career at Ascot, but that is the only question mark regarding a horse who has won on quick and slow ground and could potentially even improve for racing over further.

“He ran well at York and has done everything right since,” said Chris Wall, former trainer and now racing manager to owners KHK Racing.

“Obviously he is going into the unknown over that distance but he’s nothing but a competitor, he’s a tough horse, he likes the challenge and if he gets the trip I think he’s going to be a player.

“Roger is very happy with how everything is so it’s fingers crossed, really.

“Four-year-olds have a great record in the Gold Cup and while the trip is the unknown, he certainly gives the impression that he will stay those distances well.

“His work at home has been very satisfactory, he looks well, so we’ll just keep everything crossed that he puts up a good performance.

“We’re not too worried about the ground. I suppose like everybody we’d like a little bit of juice, so a few showers wouldn’t go amiss but he’s proved he’s effective on any ground, so we’re looking forward to it.”

The owners also hold leading claims in the Commonwealth Cup with Sakheer, the Mill Reef winner who finished seventh on soft ground in the 2000 Guineas.

“He must have a good chance. It was hard to tell whether he stayed a mile on that awful ground in the Guineas, but he acquitted himself well,” said Wall.

“He’s done nothing wrong in his preparation either, so we’ll go there and hope for the best and hope he goes and runs a good race.

“He’s going to have to prove himself exceptional if he’s going to beat Little Big Bear I think, but we’ll see how we go.”

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