Race of The Day Thursday June 21
16:202m4fur (4000m)

Gold Cup (Group 1)

Ascot

  • Current Favourite  Order of St George
  • Current Odds 15/8
Race Analysis Runners 9 Going Good to Firm Distance 2m4fur (4000m)

Race Overview

The world’s premier long distance Flat race, the £500,000 Gold Cup is the highlight of Royal Ascot and the centrepiece on Ladies Day. Run over the marathon two-and-a-half mile trip, there are few thoroughbreds who genuinely stay this extreme distance, but the race has created some legendary performers over the years and some memorable finishes.

First run in 1807,  the modern era has seen some hugely popular multiple winners including Sagaro, Le Moss, Ardross, Gildoran, Royal Rebel and the four-timer winner Yeats, while the last two renewals have been won by Order of St George and Big Orange, who 12 months ago defeated Order of St George in a truly outstanding never-say-die triumph.

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Horse racing Ryan Moore

Favourite Order of St George

So narrowly denied back-to-back successes in losing out by just a short-head to the heroic Big Orange in last year’s race, Aidan O’Brien’s tremendous stayer has been trained with this race once again in mind ever since.

Horse racing Frankie Dettori

Other Contenders

The main dangers to the favourite include the very progressive Stradivarius, the mount of Frankie Dettori, star French stayer Vazirabad, Ireland’s Torcedor, and the talented Desert Skyline, all of whom have claims if running up to their best on the anticipated fast ground.

Race Analysis

(Published 11.50, June 20) – This really could be the race of the week. The 2016 hero Order of St George is a fine stayer who also possesses the rare quality at marathon distances of having a turn of foot, as demonstrated by having finished third and fourth in the last two renewals of the mile-and-a-half Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Ryan Moore’s mount stays really well too and is unbeaten in his last three starts since the ‘Arc’.

Connections have tailored his campaign to reversing his narrow loss to Big Orange 12 months ago, and with his old rival sidelined Order of St George’s chance is obvious as he’s been here and done it before. He has little in hand of Torcedor though on their running here in October when only half a length separated the pair (Stradivarius third, Mount Moriah fourth) in the British Champions Long Distance Cup, but that same rival was nine lengths behind him in this race last year so has to improve at least 7lb over this trip to pose a threat.

Torcedor has never raced beyond two miles so will be going into unknown territory once they make the run to the home turn, but Jessica Harrington’s horses are in good form and it wouldn’t surprise to see him run a big race.

Another for whom this exceptional trip will be a first is John Gosden’s STRADIVARIUS, a brave winner of last year’s Group 1 Goodwood Cup over two miles (where he defeated Big Orange), before going on to fail by just a length to beat Order of St George in the aforementioned Ascot race last October on unsuitably soft ground. The son of Sea The Stars easily accounted for Desert Skyline over 1m6f in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup on the Knavesmire last month and continues to give the impression that he is getting better with every outing.

Both Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori feel there is every chance that Stradivarius will stay, so on ground that should give him every chance of doing so  last year’s St Leger third is taken to gain the day.

French star Vazirabad is a cracking stayer for whom this marathon distance holds no fears. He’s proven at the top level at two-and-a-half miles and has won 15 of his 22 career starts, finishing runner-up in five of his other seven outings. Trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, he won the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan in March for the third successive year, then beat Marmelo, (a winner since) in the Group 2 Prix Vicomtesse Vigier at Longchamp three weeks ago.

The only flaw in Vazirabad’s profile is the ground, as he’s never raced on anything faster than good and is known to be at his best when there is give underfoot. With no rain of any substance in the forecast this may hamper the Aga Khan-owned six-year-old but he may still play a major part in what promises to be a great race.

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Betting.net Selection

Stradivarius
2/1
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Betting.net Danger

Order of St George
15/8

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Paul Alster Betting.net

Written by Paul Alster

Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.