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The Gold Cup

3.00pm Ascot

LD
  • Distance 2m 4f
  • Class 1
  • Group 1
  • Prize money £400,000

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 Qatar Goodwood Cup and Magners Rose Doncaster Cup, make up Britain’s Stayers’ Triple Crown. All three races feature in the QIPCO British Champions Series Long Distance category.

There are very few multiple winners of the race, with the two most notable being Yeats (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009) and Stradivarius (2018, 2019, 2020). The latter has been a dominant force in the staying division for the last three years for Frankie Dettori and John Gosden. Looking as youthful as ever, in 2020 he destroyed the field with a mesmerising 10-length victory.

Current leading jockey: Frankie Dettori (1992, 1993, 1998, 2004, 2012, 2018, 2019, 2020)
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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Imperious Stradivarius saunters to Gold Cup hat-trick

Superstar stayer Stradivarius was imperious as he won the Gold Cup for the third consecutive time for owner Bjorn Nielsen, trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori.

The six-year-old Sea The Stars horse joined Sagaro (1975, 1976, 1977) as a triple Gold Cup winner with only four-time scorer Yeats having won the two and a half mile staying showpiece more.

Stradivarius scored by 10 lengths, the most decisive of his career. Having moved up effortlessly on the bridle behind long-time leader Nayef Road, Stradivarius went right away in the final furlong and won as he liked. Nayef Road held on for second, eight lengths clear of Cross Counter.

 

 

Gosden said: “We are very proud to have won the race three times and it is great for the owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen. He is passionate about his breeding and broodmares. He has been trying to breed a Derby winner, but he has got a very good Gold Cup horse. For him, it is profoundly fulfilling for him as much as it is for us.

“Stradivarius is quite a character. I must change my aftershave, as he got quite coltish whilst I was saddling him. I must have overdone the aftershave or something. He is quite a noisy character and he was having a shout and play out there – he does think life is a bit of fun and when you win races like this, I suppose it is.

“He has beaten some good horses in his time. People have tried to criticise the opposition, but he has put them away with that turn of foot and he has even done it on this [soft] ground.”

Dettori, who had now won the Gold Cup eight times (Lester Piggott holds the record number of Gold Cup wins, 11) said: “Tremendous. I was worried about the rain; they were talking about the Martyn Meade horse [Technician] a lot, it was a concern, and he actually really surprised me because he went like a hot knife through butter, really. I had everybody covered by the four, then was surprised that I didn’t have anyone to challenge me. It is always a scary moment when you get to the furlong marker whether you will pick up or not, but he did and stretched away by 10.

“I am so proud of the horse. He is a joy to be around. He will go down as one of the great stayers like Yeats and Sagaro and who knows, maybe we will try for the four [wins] next year.”

Charlie Johnston, son of and assistant trainer to Mark Johnston, trainer of runner-up Nayef Road, said: “I thought the rider of Withhold was going to ruin his own race as well as ours; it was obvious our horse was doing quite a lot in front and kept harrying him down the hill and out of Swinley Bottom as well. Watching, I thought he would do well to keep going, so to keep going and beat the rest so comfortably was a good effort.”

Results

Position Horse Jockey Trainer Owner
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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.

  • Course plan Ascot Champions Day Course Plan#
  • Course Intro

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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