Royal Ascot - At The Races

16:20 Ascot 22 Jun 2017

Gold Cup (Group 1) (Class 1) (4YO plus)

Winner £226,840 - 14 ran

4

2m 3f 210y

Good to Firm (Watered)

View Course Guide

Weighed In

Last year’s race

Order Of St George
  • Winner: Order Of St George
  • Jockey: R L Moore
  • Trainer: A P O'Brien
  • Owner: L Williams, Mrs J Magnier, M Tabor, D Smith
  • Age: 4 Weight: 9st 0lb
  • Starting Price: 10/11f
  • Season Form Figures: 1
  • Previous Best: 1st - Irish St. Leger (Group 1), Curragh (Sept 2015)

The reigning title holder has won six of the last 20 runnings and Order Of St George will be a strong fancy for many to win a second Gold Cup after his impressive win in last season’s race, following which he went on to place in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe demonstrating his class. After he came with a sweeping run to win last year, the first thing that crossed my mind was that if he stays fit and well then he could win the Gold Cup a couple more times. His connections brought Yeats back to win four Gold Cups and last year’s winner is close to him when it comes to 1m4f form, maybe even superior, and we know that he stays 2m4f on decent ground very well.

The concerns if you are a short-priced backer are that he has been known to throw in a bad run and if we get a really wet Royal Ascot blunting his greater speed than his rivals. He was beaten at odds of 1/7 when Wicklow Brave won the Irish St Leger and also beaten at odds-on on his next two starts after his Arc third. Both were forgivable though, the first on Champions Day at the end of the season just 13 days after his Arc third and then through rustiness on his seasonal debut attempting to give 5lb to Torcedor in the Vintage Crop Stakes. Four winners of that race have added the Gold Cup since 2007 and he has since won the Saval Beg, another good prep race for the Irish. Aidan O’Brien always left Yeats short of full fitness on his first run back.
 
The Irish have won 8 of the last 11 Gold Cups and they look set to send over more than just Order Of St George as realistic contenders. Yeats contributed four of those successes and was a former Group 1 horse over 1m4f as was the same stable’s 2011 winner, Fame And Glory (both won the Coronation Cup), so it looked significant that O’Brien was upping another class act in Leading Light to Cup races three years ago and his class just got him home.

Godolphin’s winning trio of Classic Cliche, Kayf Tara (x2) and Papineau were also very classy middle-distance horses stepping up in trip so such horses have held the advantage over horses always regarded as out-and-out stayers in more recent years. However, it would be remiss not to mention that there have also been high-profile failures with Marienbard and Ask being the most notable who failed to stay since the turn of the century. Beautiful Romance looks like being the main hope.

The Irish have won 8 of the last 11 Gold Cups and they look set to send over more than just Order Of St George as realistic contenders.

Vazirabad was set to head the French challenge after winning in Dubai for the second year, running just running down Beautiful Romance in the closing stages, but suffered a setback when winning at Chantilly last time out and will miss the Royal Meeting.

Six of the last nine British-trained winners contested the Henry II Stakes won this season by Big Orange who made all to win by 5l. That contest at Sandown has been the most productive Gold Cup guide in recent years supplying nine of the last 23 winners and, of those nine winners, six were placed at Sandown so don’t give up on Higher Power and She Is No Lady yet.

Five of the last 21 Gold Cup winners contested the Yorkshire Cup won this season by Dartmouth who will bid to try and win the Hardwicke Stakes for the second year running. Simple Verse ran a cracking trial to be beaten a neck as she wasn’t considered ready to win beforehand by Ralph Beckett so her effort can be marked up but five horses in a line from a furlong out to the line means I have to question the form. She won’t have a problem staying according to her trainer.

The 2013 and 2014 winners had won the Queen’s Vase over 2m restricted to three-year-olds at the previous season’s meeting which was won by Sword Fighter who beat the subsequent St Leger winner, Harbour Law, into second. Recent Gold Cup winners Colour Vision and Estimate both contested the Sagaro Stakes won this season by Sweet Selection who had a very rusty Harbour Law back in last of seven.

History tells us that only exceptional horses over the age of six tend to win the Gold Cup, and stayers don’t get much more exceptional than Yeats who won here as a seven and eight-year-old, so I am happy to treat the four-time Gold Cup winner as an exception to the rule. Prior to Yeats, we have to go back 68 years to find the last winner aged seven or older.

Up until 2010, the previous ten winners had won a Group 1 or 2 contest but, since then, Rite Of Passage, Estimate and Trip To Paris have won the Gold Cup having not won previously at such a level. Seventeen of the last 22 winners had won earlier in the season which is notable enough not to be overlooked.

As far as the market is concerned, we have endured some surprise winners with six being sent off at 14/1+ in the last 22 years but, more importantly, 11 of the last 12 winners have been very findable with no winner bigger than 7/1.

At a glance summary

Positives
Won earlier in the season
Likely to start at no bigger than 7/1
Irish-trained
Won the Vintage Crop Stakes
Contested the Henry II Stakes
Horses that won or were placed over middle distances at Group 1 level
Godolphin-owned contenders
Negatives
Yet to win a Group 1 or Group 2 race
Aged older than six
Trained in France

Previous Winners
Year Going Ran Winner Draw Age Weight OR Form Last run Trainer (Distance) Jockey SP Time
2016 Soft 17 Order Of St George 10 4 9 0 - 22111-1 13 days A P O'Brien (399 miles) R L Moore 10/11 4:26.21
2015 Good to Firm 12 Trip To Paris 13 4 9 0 - 4-41112 21 days E Dunlop (88 miles) G Lee 12/1 4:22.61
2014 Good to Firm 13 Leading Light 14 4 9 0 - 11110-1 32 days A P O'Brien (399 miles) J P O'Brien 10/11 4:21.09
2013 Good to Firm 14 Estimate 5 4 8 11 - 71133-1 50 days Sir M Stoute (88 miles) R L Moore 7/2 4:20.51
2012 Good to Soft 9 Colour Vision 5 4 9 0 - 85133-1 50 days S bin Suroor (88 miles) L Dettori 6/1 4:42.05
2011 Good to Soft 15 Fame And Glory 3 5 9 2 - 1115-11 18 days A P O'Brien (399 miles) J P Spencer 11/8 4:37.51
2010 Good to Firm 12 Rite Of Passage 13 6 9 2 - 411113 92 days D K Weld (266 miles) P J Smullen 20/1 4:16.92
2009 Good to Firm 9 Yeats 6 8 9 2 - 11151-6 53 days A P O'Brien (399 miles) Johnny Murtagh 6/4 4:20.73
2008 Good to Firm 10 Yeats 4 7 9 2 - 11113-1 53 days A P O'Brien (399 miles) Johnny Murtagh 11/8 0:00.00
2007 Good 14 Yeats 2 6 9 2 - 1127-11 22 days A P O'Brien (399 miles) Mick Kinane 8/13 4:20.78