Winning the Queen’s Prize Handicap at Kempton over two-miles is a long way from the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup, but there could be no disguising the potential in the winner, Thimaar, who looks a stayer with a big future, writes Elliot Slater.
The John Gosden-trained son of Dynaformer was the overpowering presence in the paddock before the long-standing first significant staying handicap of the Flat season, being a truly enormous horse who looks similar to the late, great stayer, Persian Punch.
Not surprisingly, Gosden feels that the recently gelded four-year-old is only now growing into his strength. He saw the horse battle on tenaciously up the Sunbury straight to hold the equally determined Gulf of Naples by a length (the pair finished well clear).
The famously shrewd Newmarket handler nominated a step into pattern company for his winner, who will be aimed at the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot on May 2.
The Ascot contest has often been used as a stepping-stone to the Gold Cup, with outstanding winners in recent memory, including the dual-scorer, Double Trigger, the aforementioned Persian Punch, and the popular Celeric. Gosden, consequently, is certainly signalling that he believes that Thimaar, (who won off a mark of just 93 at Kempton), is potentially a horse who could take high rank in the staying division in 2012.
Last term, the Hamdan al Maktoum-owned homebred won his maiden at Newmarket in July.
He then failed to cut any ice when pitched in at the deep end in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes won by Sea Moon. Victory at Ascot in September, however, on his first attempt at two miles, showed Gosden’s charge in a new light and he seems certain to stay at the trip and beyond this term.
Thimaar is currently an outsider in the ascot odds, at 14/1. Fame and Glory is the firm favourite for the Gold Cup.