There is no more famous race at the Royal Meeting than the Ascot Gold Cup, a contest that is steeped in history and prestige.
The Gold Cup stands proudly as the showpiece event of Royal Ascot week and is the world’s premier race for horses that are specialists over longer distances. Modern tradition has scheduled the race for the middle of the week- Ladies Day, when fashion and glamour are out in force.
The race has provided some of the meeting’s greatest moments. In 2013, the victory of Her Majesty The Queen’s filly Estimate was met by a public outpouring of joy around the world.
Furthermore, those in attendance when Yeats powered to his record fourth straight Gold Cup win in 2009 will never forget the reception he received that afternoon. Yeats is now immortalised with a statue that stands proudly in the Parade Ring...
Age: 7 of the last 10 winners were age 4-6.
Price: 6/10 winners have been favourites, 8/10 winners were in the top 3 in the betting.
Last Run: 8/10 winners won on their last run before Ascot, 10/10 winners had their last run within 53 days.
Previous Course Form: 8/10 winners had at least 1 previous run at Ascot.
Runners And Riders
Willie Mullins saw the form of his Gold Cup contender Max Dynamite take a boost last week when Call To Mind won in the USA.
Only 10th in this race last year, Max Dynamite went on to run a blinder in the Melbourne Cup when finishing third to Rekindling.
A spell over hurdles bore little fruit, but he was fourth in the Yorkshire Cup last time out, just behind Call To Mind.
Order Of St George
Many pundits and punters consider this horse to be Aidan O’Brien’s banker of the week from his extensive Royal Ascot squad.
Finishing first and second in the last two runnings of the Gold Cup, Order Of St George does not have to contend with Big Orange this year, who edged him out 12 months ago.
Just as he did last season, the six-year-old has warmed up for this race by running in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan and the Saval Beg at Leopardstown, winning them both.
In the last 12 months, Order of St George has won five stakes, including the Group 1 Irish St. Leger last September. He has been beaten twice in that period, finishing second in the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup last June and fourth in the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last October.
The Andrew Balding-trained Scotland has been unplaced in his two previous Gold Cup attempts. Having missed two seasons, the seven-year-old returned to Ascot in May where he finished last of six runners.
It will take a leap of faith to believe this one will take top honours here.
Sheikhzayedroad may be a nine-year-old but was only beaten a length by the classy Vazirabad in the Dubai Gold Cup two runs ago.
Davis Simmock’s globetrotting gelding failed to follow up that run back on British shores in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown when he trailed home in last place.
Previous top class wins around the world, across several seasons, make him a very dangerous horse to dismiss at a course where he appears to come into his own.
Jessica Harrington’s six-year-old is progressing rapidly and was last seen winning the Sagaro Stakes here at the start of May.
Harrington’s gelding was a close second behind Order Of St George, the 2016 Ascot Gold Cup winner, in the Group One stayers’ race on Champions Day but ran a below-par race at Meydan in the Gold Cup there.
Out of a full sister to Yeats, Torcedor has yet to prove himself at the trip. He was a well-beaten fifth in last year’s Gold Cup but returns with much more experience under his belt.
Trained by Alain De Royer-Dupre, the six-year-old has won his last two starts, both in Group 2 company.
Vazirabad has won both of France’s top staying races, the Prix Royal-Oak (twice) and the Prix du Cadran (G1) , which would indicate there are no stamina concerns.
He is a totally dependable horse with a record of 15 wins and five seconds from 22 starts, his only unplaced efforts coming at shorter trips.
The top French stayer, who has to be produced late by Christophe Soumillon, will be a live contender on Thursday afternoon.
Desert Skyline should improve on the strep up in distance here. His best win came in the longest race of his career so far, the 2 1/4-mile Doncaster Cup against the older horses last September.
A staying-on third to Torcedor in the Sagaro and runner-up to Stradivarius at York, give the David Elsworth gelding every chance on the form book.
The talented Silvestre De Sousa takes the ride which is another positive for his supporters.
Mount Moriah looks like he needs a bit of cut in the ground to perform to his best, none of which is forecast for the Berkshire track in time for Thursday.
The four-year-old ran well in Group races last season and stayed on gamely to strike at Nottingham last month but could only finish fifth in the Henry II Stakes last time at Sandown.
The John Gosden-trained Stradivarius did well against older stayers last year, notably beating Big Orange at Goodwood and shaping better than the bare result in the Long Distance Cup on unsuitable ground.
His Yorkshire Cup win last month suggests he is as good as ever this season and he is a proven performer at this meeting.
It is interesting to note that his career record on good or fast ground reads: 112111
888sport suggests: Vazirabad (win)
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*