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. Some of the meeting’s most popular runners have come in this race including Stradivarius, Yeats and the Queen’s Estimate in recent years.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 18th June 2020
- Winner: Stradivarius
- SP: 4/5
- Trainer: John Gosden
- Jockey: Frankie Dettori
1m4f is the trip for the Day 3 highlight at Royal Ascot, with the race offering £250,000 in guaranteed prize money in 2020. The ground at the track is currently described as good to soft, but with more rain on the way may ease in the lead up to the race.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Good to soft||2m4f||Group 1||£250,000||8 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Ascot Gold Cup Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
The sole Group 1 on the Thursday card at Royal Ascot is not only the biggest event of the meeting for the stayers, but the most prestigious event of its type of the entire season. Landed by legends such as Ardross and four-time champ, Yeats, in the past, the race looks to have attracted a quality field once again 2020.
Aidan O’Brien leads the way with seven wins in this event, but a little surprisingly doesn’t hold an entry this year, leaving Mark Johnston as the most successful trainer in the field. The Middleham handler has taken this three times previously and sends Nayef Road into battle this time around.
This has been a solid contest for favourite backers in the past decade, with six of the past 10 market leaders getting the job done – returning a level stakes profit of a shade over four points.
|Stradivarius||4/7||122||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|Cross Counter||11/2||118||Charlie Appleby||James Doyle|
|Technician||7/1||116||Martyn Meade||Oisin Murphy|
|Nayef Road||12/1||113||Mark Johnston||Ryan Moore|
The obvious place to start is with the runner who is bidding to join Sagaro and Yeats as the only horse to win this race on three or more occasions. Too good for the field in each of the past two editions of the race, John Gosden’s Stradivarius is deservedly the clear market leader in his hat-trick bid.
The son of Sea The Stars does unusually arrive at this race on the back of a couple of defeats – going down by an agonising nose to Kew Gardens on Champion’s Day here last season, and finishing a respectable third in the Coronation Cup over 1m4f on his seasonal return. That latest run will at least have served to tune him up for what is no doubt his major target of the season, and he’s nine from 10 in his career over trips of two miles and above. Seven-time winner of this race, Frankie Dettori, takes the ride, and he does look much the most likely winner. Gosden has been amongst the winners already this week, and is fancied to strike again here.
Cross Counter (11/2)
Next in the betting comes the Charlie Appleby-trained five year old, Cross Counter. A real globetrotting star for the yard, this one’s finest hour came on the other side of the world when storming to success in the 2018 Melbourne Cup in Australia. Also a Group winner in this country and out in Meydan, the son of Teofilo looks one of the most likely to take advantage should the favourite not be at his best.
Cross Counter will be having his third crack at Stradivarius, having gone down by two lengths to the Gosden star in the Goodwood Cup, and being beaten by around the same margin in this race last year. Not too much ground to make up then, but he will likely need to find some improvement from somewhere.
Following a slow start since the resumption of racing, the Martyn Meade yard seems to be finding its stride now, and will have high hopes of striking on the big stage with this four year old son of Mastercraftsman.
Consistency wasn’t this horse’s strong point last season, with disappointing displays in the Chester Vase and St Leger in particular standing out. However, on the plus side he did at least end the year on a high when registering back to back victories at Longchamp – the second of which represented a first career Group 1 success.
Another cause for optimism comes with the fact that Technician’s performances have steadily improved as he has been stepped up in trip, and this will represent his first attempt at 2m4f. The rain in the area is also in his favour, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see him run a big race.
Nayef Road (12/1)
It can prove costly to ignore Mark Johnston in these events for the stamina-laden performers, and the record-breaking handler sends his Galileo colt Nayef Road into battle for the biggest staying event of the year.
The mount of Ryan Moore does have nine pounds to find with Stradivarius, which makes life tough but, as one of the youngest runners in the field, does at least have more scope for improvement than a number of his rivals. Steadily progressive last season, he returned to the track with a comfortable success in the Sagaro Stakes on Newcastle’s all-weather surface, and rates an intriguing runner stepping up to this trip for the first time. Being zero from three on ground containing the word soft in the going description though, the rain in the area may hinder his chances.
Ascot Gold Cup Winners
|2020||Stradivarius||4/5||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2019||Stradivarius||Evens||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|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|
|2013||Estimate||7/2||Sir Michael Stoute||Ryan Moore|
|2012||Colour Vision||6/1||Saeed bin Suroor||Frankie Dettori|
|2011||Fame And Glory||11/8||Aidan O'Brien||Jamie Spencer|
About the Ascot Gold Cup
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’.
Worth Its Weight in Gold
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. In 2020, due to the absence of spectators this was reduced by half to £250,000 with the winner still taking home a whopping £148,000. We think the trophy might just be a secondary concern!
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
|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.
One horse that did successfully attempt to win the Stayer’s Triple was Stradivarius in 2019. The John Gosden trained star, ridden by Frankie Dettori on all three occasions, won his second Ascot Gold Cup and third Goodwood Cup before taking the Doncaster Cup as the 1/9 favourite.
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 table below shows, with Double Trigger, Yeats and Stradivarius the only horses able to do so in over 30 years.
Same Season Ascot Gold Cup & Goodwood Cup Winners: 1849 – 2019
|2019||Stradivarius||5||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2018||Stradivarius||4||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2008||Yeats||7||Aidan O’Brien||Johnny Murtagh|
|2006||Yeats||5||Aidan O’Brien||Kieren Fallon|
|1995||Double Trigger||4||Mark Johnston||Jason Weaver|
|1988||Sadeem||5||Guy Harwood||Greville Starkey|
|1986||Longboat||5||Dick Hern||Willie Carson|
|1984||Gildoran||4||Barry Hills||Steve Cauthen|
|1983||Little Wolf||5||Dick Hern||Willie Carson|
|1981||Ardross||5||Henry Cecil||Lester Piggott|
|1980||Le Moss||5||Henry Cecil||Joe Mercer|
|1979||Le Moss||4||Henry Cecil||Lester Piggott|
|1972||Erimo Hawk||4||Geoffrey Barling||Pat Eddery|
|1958||Gladness||5||Vincent O’Brien||Lester Piggott|
|1953||Souepi||5||George Digby||Charlie Elliot|
|1951||Pan||4||Etienne Pollet||Roger Poincelet|
|1949||Alycidon||4||Walter Earl||Doug Smith|
|1935||Tiberius||4||Joseph Lawson||Tommy Weston|
|1907||The White Knight||4||Harry Sadler||William Halsey|
|1889||Trayles||4||James Jewitt||Jack Robinson|
|1884||St. Simon||3||Matthew Dawson||Charles Wood|
|1879||Isonomy||4||John Porter||Tom Cannon|
|1865||Ely||4||Tom Oliver||Harry Custance|
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
|1979||43||Le Moss||Henry Cecil|
|1965||29||Fighting Charlie||Freddie Maxwell|
|1963||27||Twilight Alley||Noel Murless|