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The Gold Cup

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History

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 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.

Aidan O’Brien, the trainer of Yeats, claimed his seventh Gold Cup with Order Of St George in 2016.

Current leading jockey: Frankie Dettori (1992, 1993, 1998, 2004, 2012, 2018)
Current leading trainer: Aidan O’Brien, 7 wins (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2016)

Previous winners

Year Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Prize money

Entries

Going/Track

Weather

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

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Stradivarius is pitch perfect for a second time

Super stayer Stradivarius cemented his place among the staying greats by becoming the first horse since Yeats to win back-to-back renewals of the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

The five-year-old son of Sea The Stars met trouble in the home straight as he was hemmed in behind a wall of horses in the £500,000 Group 1.

However, once the gap opened, Stradivarius showed his brave and battling qualities under to forge ahead inside the final furlong and held on gamely to win by a length from 7/2 shot Dee Ex Bee, trained by Mark Johnston, in second.

Master Of Reality was a nose further back in third, with Cross Counter another three-quarters-of-a-length back in fourth.

It was Stradivarius’ eighth win in a QIPCO British Champions Series race. He trails the mighty Frankel by just one.

To add to the excitement of the 70,000 crowd, Dettori had also won the previous three races on the card – reviving memories of his Magnificent Seven in 1996.

The 48-year-old was riding the winner of the Gold Cup for a seventh time said: “Stradivarius is an amazing horse – his heart is bigger than his body. He does not know how to lose. All I have to do is get him amongst other horses and he does the rest – what a horse.

“For a stayer,

Results

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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.

Getting there

Ascot
Berkshire
SL5 7JX

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