Fourth race- the Gold Cup

Winning trainer




Aidan O'Brien was a relieved man after Leading Light won the Group One Gold Cup over two and a half miles in a thrilling finish with The Queen's Estimate and fellow Irish challenger Missunited, the margins being a neck and a short-head at the line.


He had been worried coming in to Thursday's highlight because a few disappointing performances from his horses at this year's Royal Ascot - he highlighted the poor run of The Great War in today's second race, the Norfolk Stakes.


O'Brien said: "Your heart would be in your mouth (watching the finish). Obviously, he's idling and I thought he had a lovely position, settled well but, when the race came on, he was a little slow to react. I thought Joseph did well because Leading Light was very lazy when he got there. I think Joseph was trying to get in company with him. I am delighted.


"I am so lucky to have the horses and work with the people that I am working with. Andrew is in charge of this lad, Heather rides him and Jim looks after him. We are just in a very lucky position and the lads have such unbelievable horses with unbelievable pedigrees and we have an unbelievable place to train them in. The team is so strong from the time before they are conceived and all the way along.


"We were worried about the two and a half miles even though he had won over two miles here last year.. He is out of a filly that won the Queen Mary, so he is very fast on the dam's side. He's a horse who we thought could go back in trip, maybe for a King George, but it was tough there for that last half-mile. Once you go beyond two miles, you don't know what is going to happen.


"Joseph saved him as much as he could - taking nothing out of him to get a position but he then had to move. It was nip and tuck. Leading Light is brave - he kept going and going. I thought he had won a stride after the line! We were worried because some of the horses have not been running as we hoped. We did not know what was going to run good and what was going to run bad. But Leading Light had taken a lot of work well and kept smiling which is usually a good sign.


"But you are never sure. I am not sure whether he won it through stamina or courage. He works with plenty of class. It was a tough race. We knew The Queen's filly was working very well and Joseph said to me in the parade ring that she had worked better than Hillstar in her last piece of work, which for a stayer is a serious work.


"It was a long last furlong. Leading Light came off the bridle turning in and he had a good bit to go then. I am delighted he put his head in front. Two and a half miles around Ascot really tests a horse's courage. It takes a very brave horse to win it - colt or filly. Courage has to kick in over the last three furlongs. Those three furlongs were as long as I can remember in a long time. I thought we were in trouble. So many horses could have won.


"We have had some horses run a little bit ordinary this week. Two of the two-year-olds ran very bad. If I had expected them to run like that, they would not have been here. Our best chances were today - the colt in the second race ran very disappointingly.


"I was confident until I knew what The Queen's horse had been doing. The information was strong and it was right. I got a cold sweat on my back. The Queen was an absolute lady and we were sorry that her filly was second. A staying filly to be doing the work she was doing, she must be a very special filly - someone told Joseph but I better not say who! We have a tough young colt and he just found a little bit at the end. I could not believe that Joseph was able to keep him going and the rules are the rules - a jockey can only drive a horse so far. We will wait and see with Leading Light now."