Horse Racing: Kite's flying high for Gold Cup bid

WITH Yeats now retired to the breeding sheds, it is time for a new star of the staying division to step forward.

Aidan O'Brien's runner has dominated the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot for the last four years but his absence opens the door for Godolphin's Kite Wood to stake his champion claims.

Only Spanish raider Bannaby is proven at the two-and-a-half-mile trip so there are plenty of question marks over the rest of the field.

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However, Kite Wood has given every indication so far that an extra half-mile can only bring about further improvement rather than hindering his chances. The four-year-old looked in danger of becoming a disappointment when unplaced in last year's Derby but a switch up in distance brought him back to life, winning at Newmarket and Newbury before heading for the St Leger.

Although he had to give best to stablemate Mastery that day, he lost little in defeat and Godolphin surely headed into the winter months confident of his ability.

A victorious seasonal bow over two miles at Longchamp last month would have done little to dull their enthusiasm, particularly as he comfortably accounted for the re-opposing Kasbah Bliss on that occasion.

Kite Wood will obviously have to step up on that performance again and, while he has something to find with the likes of Ask and Manifest, he is an unexposed runner who should relish the marathon trip.

Henry Cecil suffered a nightmare with his two highly-rated fillies in the Oaks, but Principal Role can offer some compensation with victory in the Ribblesdale Stakes.

The Warren Place handler has saddled five winners of this Group Two contest over the years and, while Yashmak was the last to score 13 years ago, Principal Role can break the drought.

Group Three-placed as a juvenile, the Empire Maker filly was defeated as favourite on her seasonal bow at Newmarket but bounced back to form with a Listed win at Newbury last month.

Although she only beat Fatanah a short head, the runner-up enjoyed the run of the race and it was to her credit that she found enough to steal the advantage on the line.

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Cecil opted to wait with this filly as he already had two contenders for Epsom and that decision can pay off.