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The Gold Cup

Order of St George
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The Gold Cup, Ascot’s oldest race and Britain’s top event for long-distance thoroughbreds, has been dominated by one horse in recent years – the incomparable Yeats. The Irish-trained bay, now retired to stud, became the only horse in Ascot history to win the Gold Cup four times in succession when taking the 2009 race, making him arguably the best stayer of all time.

The Group 1 race, the second long-distance event in the QIPCO British Champions Series, is run over 2 miles 4 furlongs (4,000 metres) and is open to four-year-olds and older. It is traditionally held on day three – ‘Ladies’ Day’ – of Royal Ascot.

The Gold Cup certainly has royal connections. The inaugural running was watched by King George III and Queen Charlotte, while the 1844 running was attended by Nicholas I of Russia, after which the event became known as the Emperor’s Plate for a short period (the Crimean War may have had something to do with the decision to change the name back again).

The trophy is one of three at Royal Ascot traditionally presented by The Queen though she won the race herself with the Sir Micahel Stoute-trained Estimate in 2013 so it was presented to her by her son, Prince Andrew. Estimate tried again in 2014 but went down by a neck to the 2013 Ladbrokes St Leger winner, Leading Light, giving trainer Aidan O’Brien his sixth victory in the race.

The Gold Cup, along with the Artemis Goodwood Cup and Doncaster Cup, make up Britain’s Stayers’ Triple Crown. All three races feature in the QIPCO British Champions Series Long Distance category. The last horse to win them in the same year was Double Trigger, trained by Mark Johnston, in 1995.

Current leading jockey: Frankie Dettori (1992, 1993, 1998, 2004, 2012)
Current leading trainer: Aidan O’Brien, 6 wins (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014)

Previous winners

Year Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Prize money




No/Draw Horse/Jockey Age Form/Type BHA Rating Weight Trainer Odds


Order Of St George outclasses rivals

A bruising renewal of the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot required a horse prepared to take some punches. It found one in Order Of St George, who stamped himself as an equine heavyweight when flooring rivals with his mix of speed and stamina.

Eighteen runners lined up in the stayers’ showpiece and Ryan Moore, the jockey of Order Of St George, will have rarely ridden in such a rough race

It made little difference to the outcome – the 10-11 favourite powering to a decisive success in the biggest race in the staying calendar, which forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

“I had to ride about four different races there – it was a nightmare the whole way,” Moore said. “He’s got a lot of class and it was a messy race. Order Of St George is a class horse and class horses win races. He picked up well and to be still pouring it on at the end of two and a half miles is a very good performance.”

In the process the four-year-old demonstrated trainer Aidan O’Brien’s superiority in the race by providing the Ballydoyle trainer with a record seventh Gold Cup success.

Mille Et Mille set a furious gallop with Order Of St George held up in the mid-division by Moore. Turning for home, the son of Galileo suffered traffic problems while trying to make his way through the field, forcing Moore to bring the four-year-old wide on the outside.

However, once he found daylight, the strapping colt stayed strongly down the outside to hit the front inside the furlong pole. At the line he had three lengths to spare over the game Mizzou, with Sheikhzayedroad keeping on for third.

“He is just a big Rolls-Royce engine,” O’Brien said, admiring his winner. “It was a very rough race and he was brave. Ryan was very clever and didn’t panic. He put him asleep and despite it getting pretty rough, he wasn’t worried and pulled Order Of St George out in the home straight without using any gas. He had to be very cool to do what he did.

“He was the highest-rated older horse in Ireland last year. We knew he stayed and with these middle-distance horses with that kind of chance, you always feel they have a chance because of their quality. He won an Irish Leger in soft ground off a strong pace by 11 lengths and was going away.  So if he wasn’t going to stay none of the horses were going to stay.”

O’Brien suggested a tilt at the Irish Leger and also the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe were possible destinations for the impressive winner.

Luca Cumani was proud of Mizzou, saying: “I think it was one of the best Gold Cups ever. It was run at a very strong pace and it was exciting to see the field strung out and everybody having to work hard.

“Mizzou ran a great race and I can only be proud of him. For a moment I thought we might do it when he hit the front but then I saw Order Of St George coming down the outside and knew my fate.”

He is likely to be a regular in more QIPCO British Champions Series races.

Sheikhzayedroad, also delighted his trainer, David Simcock, who said: “He has run his heart out. I am so proud of him. Probably everything will be abroad for him now.”


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The Course

British horseracing can lay claim to plenty of blue-blooded connections, but none rival those of Ascot. The Berkshire racecourse’s roots go back 300 years to Queen Anne, who recognised the potential of a stretch of heath land while out riding just a few miles from Windsor Castle.

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The royal link has endured ever since. Today, Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Royal Family attend the world-famous ‘Royal Ascot’ meeting each year, arriving in a horse drawn carriage. Royal Ascot, meanwhile, has earned iconic status as a centrepiece of the social calendar, when the world’s best thoroughbreds face fierce competition from the world’s most extravagant fashion designs.

Ascot, which underwent a £200 million redevelopment between 2004-6, also hosts the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes sponsored by QIPCO in July, the most prestigious open-age Flat race staged in Britain.

It will also host the inaugural QIPCO British Champions Day in October which will be the richest raceday ever staged in Britain with over £4.2m in prize money and the climax to the QIPCO British Champions Series.  Including the five category finales on QIPCO British Champions Day, Ascot stages no less than 13 of the 35 QIPCO British Champions Series races.

What sort of horses like Ascot? Horses that like right-handed courses. And what sort of people? People who like champagne and scones, apparently. During the five-day Royal Ascot meeting in 2010, 60,000 bottles of champagne and 40,000 scones were consumed. Lobsters, meanwhile, don’t like Royal Ascot – 1,500 of them were eaten over that same period.

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