The word ‘stamina’ is often used by both pundits and experts who are tasked with analysing a horse’s chances of success, and although it is just one of many aspects to consider when studying the form lines, it is surely the most important. There are a smattering of UK flat races throughout the summer months that require proven stayers, and the Ascot Gold Cup is a contest which routinely tests a horse’s ability to go the distance.
Sad to hear that BIG ORANGE has been retired due to injury
We’ll never forget that huge Ascot Gold Cup win in 2017. Legend. pic.twitter.com/Ds14SvNreU
— Syed Rahel (@rahel_syed) February 20, 2019
The Gold Cup is one of six Group 1 contests to take place at Royal Ascot, and is the stand-out race on day three of the festival. The historic five-day event is one of the most-anticipated occasions on the sporting calendar, and it is held at one of the most famous racecourses in the world. The Berkshire venue hosts a number of high-quality events throughout the year, including British Champions Day, but with 18 group races, and prize money of over £13 million, Royal Ascot stands head and shoulders above the rest.
There are currently 35 Group 1 events scheduled for 2019, with these valuable races contested over a variety of distances. However, the Ascot Gold Cup is the longest event on the card, and is staged over 2m 4f. Naturally, this attracts a high-quality field of stayers, and a number of notable entrants have already been slated for an appearance in this year’s contest.
Stradivarius was victorious in 2018, under an excellent ride from Frankie Detorri , and the John Gosden-trainer five-year-old is understandably the ante-post favourite to make it back-to-back successes. With limited opportunities to compete over this distance, proven stayers are few and far between. At a bigger price, French raider Call the Wind could be interesting having been victorious in the Qatar Prix du Cardran in October 2018. This race – which is held at Longchamp – is widely perceived to the be the French equivalent to the Ascot Gold Cup, and that form could be key.
Former hurdler Thomas Hobson has been declared for trainer Willie Mullins, and is an interesting prospect having won over 2m 2f in the Doncaster Cup back in September. He has already tasted victory at this track when landing the 2017 Ascot Stakes.
With only three participants proven over this distance, there are plenty of questions to be raised about a number of the other runners. Dee Ex Bee is a very exciting prospect, and the Godolphin-bred four-year-old looked superb when winning over the two-mile trip in the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes. He stayed on very strongly, and that bodes well for this increase in distance. Mark Johnston is considering sending his Farrh colt straight to the Berkshire venue, and he is likely to be very well-supported in the betting.
— GG (@ggcouk) May 16, 2019
Meanwhile, Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter has also been declared, and has twice proven itself over 2miles. The Charlie Appleby runner was last seen winning the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan, and arrives in tip-top form.
It’s set to be another fascinating showdown, and savvy punters are already beginning to finalise their ante-post bets for the five-day extravaganza. The Ascot Gold Cup will require ample stamina, and proven stayers will be looked upon favourably in the market. With only three competitors having previously been successful over this distance, it is excitingly poised, and it is shaping up to be yet another superb renewal.