sport

Estimate seeking Gold repeat

The Queen's Estimate will face 14 rivals when she defends her crown in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot on Thursday.

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained mare supplied Her Majesty with a memorable victory in the two-and-a-half-mile feature 12 months ago and returns to Berkshire for what is her first start of the season.

The hot favourite for the Group One event is Aidan O'Brien's Leading Light, who won the Queen's Vase and the St Leger last season and made a winning comeback in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan last month.

Leading Light is the only Ballydoyle representative, with Eye Of The Storm, Ernest Hemingway and El Salvador all withdrawn.

The Irish challenge also includes last year's runner-up Simenon, trained by Willie Mullins, Dermot Weld's Pale Mimosa, Mick Winters' talented dual-purpose mare Missunited and Johnny Murtagh's Royal Diamond.

Tom Dascombe's Brown Panther has made an excellent start to the season by winning the Ormonde Stakes at Chester and the Henry II Stakes at Sandown, while Marco Botti's Tac de Boistron won Ascot's Sagaro Stakes before being touched off in the Yorkshire Cup.

Andreas Wohler's Altano, fifth in last year's renewal, is another leading contender.