Ascot Gold Cup Betting Tips & Predictions – Thursday 20th June 2019

Royal Ascot features many great races but arguably none come with the prestige of the historic Gold Cup. It is the race that launched the Royal Meeting and for stayers it is the most important event on the British flat racing calendar.

No race at Ascot has survived the test of time longer than the Gold Cup, which enjoyed its inaugural run in 1807. To this day the winning trainer is handed a gold trophy to keep. This year can Cross Counter help Charlie Appleby get his hands on the coveted prize for the first time?

Top Tips

Cross Counter to win @ 9/2

Odds correct at time of writing but may have changed since. Check site for latest prices.

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Race Info

The stayers involved in this race will battle it out on a pristinely maintained right handed Ascot course which is galloping in nature. In races of this distance, there is no need to mark a dart to the front early on but jockeys need to be aware of not leaving their move too late. The run in on the triangular course is relatively short so those in front around the final bend can often be difficult to catch.

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Good 2m 3f 210y Group 1 £500,000 11 1/5 1-3

Recent Winners

The last six years has seen five first or second favourites clinch glory in this race, the only exception being the fairly unfancied Trip To Paris.

Four-year-olds have long been a regular presence in this race but just lately they’ve run into a fine patch of form, with six wins from the last seven renewals. Big Orange is the only older horse to triumph in this time with his Gold Cup debut coming as a six-year-old.

YearWinnerSPTrainerJockey
2018 Stradivarius 7/4 John Gosden Frankie Dettori
2017 Big Orange 5/1 Michael Bell James Doyle
2016 Order of St George 10/11 Aidan O’Brien Ryan Moore
2015 Trip To Paris 12/1 Ed Dunlop Graham Lee
2014 Leading Light 10/11 Aidan O’Brien Joseph O’Brien

Analysis: Gosden on weather watch

John Gosden admitted that he’ll be keeping an eye on the forecast ahead of this Gold Cup renewal. The veteran trainer is a keen believer that in big races such as these, conditions need to be in your favour in order to get the job done. Unfortunately for him, rain fell on the opening day of Royal Ascot and if there’s more to come then Stradivarius could find life much tougher on Thursday.

Stradivarius an unconvincing favourite

One of the most popular names among the crowd to feature this Royal Ascot is unquestionably Stradivarius (11/10). As an incredibly gritty performer, you can fully expect him to give it his all, just as he did when winning by half a length last year. Good to firm conditions brought out the best in him then but he won’t enjoy such quick ground this time around. The fan favourite hasn’t lost any of his last six starts but did win the most recent Yorkshire Cup rather less easily than last time, opening the possibility that he’s not quite at his four-year-old level.

Cross can Counter rivals’ challenges

By winning the Melbourne Cup and Dubai Gold Cup, Cross Counter has now pocketed his connections over £3m in prize money. There could well be more to follow here too as the four-year-old colt looks cut out for this test. He won in Australia on good to soft ground, holding off fierce pressure in the final stages. Although he’s not yet travelled further than the two miles he battled across that day, this is not at all unusual for Gold Cup winners. A price of 9/2 is an absolute seal for the Charlie Appleby’s horse who has only lost one of his last five starts.

Bee lacks sting

Back to back victories is a good way to prepare for any race let alone the Gold Cup so Mark Johnston may well be feeling optimism about Dee Ex Bee’s chances. You should not share this feeling though as the four-year-old only did what was expected during races that lacked any top name runners. When faced with more talented opposition, the Sagaro Stakes champion has always come up short, losing out to the likes of Kew Gardens, Cross Counter and Masar last season. A top three finish would be no surprise at all but seeing out both Stradivarius and Cross Counter is too much of a big ask.

Final Verdict: Cross Counter to win

On good to firm ground we’d have probably sided with Stradivarius but with such conditions looking unlikely, Cross Counter has to be your selection. He’s already shown he can perform at the highest level and it seems that he’s also got the legs for this marathon test too.

About

Royal Procession Arriving at Royal Ascot
Dunphasizer, flickr

There simply isn’t a greater long distance flat race in Britain than Ascot’s Gold Cup. Winning the two-and-a-half mile test is the pinnacle achievement for any stayer and doing so will see them join a truly elite list of champions. Oozing such class, the Group 1 event is one of the star races of Royal Ascot, a contest that you cannot dare to miss.

Now over two centuries old, the Gold Cup has a fascinating past featuring plenty of royal involvement. King George III and Queen Charlotte attended the first ever running of the race in 1807 and 37 years later Nicholas I of Russia made an appearance during a state visit of England. The winner of that particular renewal had no name but was subsequently called ‘The Emperor’ in honour of the visiting monarch. As a show of gratitude, the successor of Alexander I donated a new trophy for the race and this triggered a brief name change to the ‘Emperor’s Plate’.

Formerly the winning owners weren’t able to keep the trophy but these days the Gold Cup is one of three perpetual trophies handed out at Royal Ascot. Not only do owners get a fancy piece of silverware but they’ll also get their share of a gigantic prize fund. In 2019 the race was valued at half a million pounds with over half of that going to connections of the winning horse. We think the trophy might just be a secondary concern!

Chart Showing the Breakdown of Prize Money in 2019

Yeats with a historic quadruple

The Gold Cup has been no stranger to double winners throughout its history. Only two horses have managed to claim more success than this though, the first being three-time champion Sagaro (1975-77) ridden by none other than Lester Piggott. For decades the chestnut horse stood as the all-time Gold Cup great but eventually an Irish thoroughbred by the name of Yeats would go on to outshine him.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Yeats enjoyed plenty of success during a coveted career but it’s his four consecutive Gold Cup wins that he’s best remembered for. His first triumph came as a five-year-old in 2006. Although by no means a dark horse then, there were stronger options on the racecard than the Coronation Cup winner. After his initial success he spent the next three renewals as the favourite, justifying his short price each time. Thanks to Yeats’ dominance, O’Brien stands as the all-time leading trainer in the race with an unrivalled seven victories.

Yeats's Four Gold Cup Victories

Year Age Jockey Runners SP Time Winning Distance
2009 8 Johnny Murtagh 9 6/4 F 4m 20.73 3 ½ lengths
2008 7 Johnny Murtagh 10 11/8 F 4m 21.14s 5 lengths
2007 6 Michael Kinane 14 8/13 F 4m 20.78s 1 ½ lengths
2006 5 Kieren Fallon 12 7/1 4m 20.45s 4 lengths

What makes Yeats’ accomplishment even more impressive is that he had to twice break the age trends to secure Gold Cup success. In 2007 he became just the second seven-year-old to finish first past the post in nearly 80 years. His victory the following season then broke an even longer record, stretching back a massive 108 years, as there hadn’t been another eight-year-old champion since Merman in 1900. This is not the all-time record however as the supreme mare Beeswing won as an nine-year-old way back in 1842.

Few attempt Triple Crown

The Gold Cup serves as the first leg of the Stayers’ Triple Crown but as illustrious as the accomplishment sounds, few horses bother to attempt it. Completing the trio of races are the Goodwood Cup, followed by the less prestigious Doncaster Cup, which carries a purse around the fifth of the size. It’s this weaker final leg that helps explains the limited interest in the Triple Crown. Gold Cup winners have been more involved at Goodwood but still not as much as you might expect. Striking gold in both races in the same season is not a regular occurrence as the chart below shows.

Chart Showing the Performance of Ascot Gold Cup Winners at the Goodwood Cup in the Same Season between 2008 and 2018

Rock Roi twice denied

First past the post in both the 1971 and 1972 Gold Cup was Rock Roi but quite incredibly his name does not feature in the history books. The luckless horse was first disqualified after traces of painkillers were found during a routine drugs test. The Jockey Club cleared trainer Peter Walwyn of any suspicion of corrupt practice but did still slap him with a £100 fine. A year later the stewards took a dim view of his bumping match with runner-up Erimo Hawk and opted to reverse the final result.

Royal Gait royally robbed

Following Rock Roi’s double disqualification, the Gold Cup enjoyed a few years lacking any sort of real controversy. This was until 1988 when the stewards snatched victory from Royal Gait’s hoofs. After several fine victories in France, the British-bred horse found himself as a credible 15/2 option for Gold Cup glory. During the race, pacemaker El Conquistador abruptly dropped back as they approach the home straight, colliding into Royal Gait by the rail. The collision threw jockey Tony Clark off the back of El Conquistador but the fourth favourite battled on to clock a record breaking time of 4:15:67.

Connections of the ‘winning’ horse began to celebrate the five length win but their mood quickly changed following a stewards’ inquiry. Somehow the racecourse stewards decided that Royal Gait was the horse at fault for hitting El Conquistador despite the pace-setter’s sharp deceleration. The five-year-old subsequently dropped down to last place with the decision branded one of racing’s greatest bungles by the Independent. Trainer John Fellows was similarly unimpressed, telling the press the outcome was difficult to believe.

Piggott cannot be matched

You’ll struggle to find a top class race that Lester Piggott wasn’t able to win at least once. The 11-time British Champion jockey claimed 4493 wins over the course of his career with a sizeable chunk of these coming in Group 1 affairs. He remains the leading jockey for many of them but his record in the Gold Cup is one that looks utterly untouchable. Piggott recorded a sensational 11 victories in this long distance event, more wins than he managed in any other major race. The full list of his winners can be found below:

Lester Piggott's Eleven Gold Cup Victories

Year Horse Trainer
1982 Ardross Henry Cecil
1981
1979 Le Moss Henry Cecil
1977 Sagaro Francois Boutin
1976
1975
1965 Fighting Charlie Freddie Maxwell
1963 Twilight Alley Noel Murless
1961 Pandofell Freddie Maxwell
1958 Gladness Vincent O'Brien
1957 Zarathustra Cecil Boyd-Rochfort

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