Stradivarius is set to meet eight rivals as the superstar stayer bids to win a record-equalling fourth Ascot Gold Cup at 4.20pm on Thursday.
After successive victories between 2018 and 2020, Stradivarius could only finish fourth behind Subjectivist last year and no horse has regained the crown since Kayf Tara in 2000.
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He won’t be facing his big rival, Trueshan, who has been declared a non-runner due to unfavourable ground conditions. Last year’s Epsom Derby and St Leger runner-up Mojo Star and Princess Zoe, second in this 12 months ago, are among the big-name runners. Aidan O’Brien pitches the emerging Kyprios into the mix.
You’ll find Ascot Gold Cup tips from our horse racing experts and a runner-by-runner guide to the field below.
Ascot Gold Cup runners
Trainer: Jamie Osborne Jockey: Saffie Osborne Age: 6 Weight: 9st 4lbs Draw: 1
Some creditable efforts in defeat in Dubai at the start of the year but got to go back to autumn 2020 for the last time he tasted success and major surprise were he to snap that losing sequence here.
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies Jockey: Liam Keniry Age: 8 Weight: 9st 4lbs Draw: 10
Useful hurdler who has translated all that ability to the Flat, completing an AW hat-trick when landing a valuable 2m conditions event at Newcastle on Good Friday. Longer trip will suit now switching to the turf but he’ll need a good bit more to come out on top.
Trainer: John & Thady Gosden Jockey: Frankie Dettori Age: 8 Weight: 9st 4lbs Draw: 2
Defeat when bidding for a fourth win in this race 12 months ago signalled the end of his domination of this division (also behind Trueshan final 2 starts) but a third win in the Yorkshire Cup on his reappearance last month shows this 8-y-o is still one of the very best stayers around.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien Jockey: Ryan Moore Age: 4 Weight: 9st 3lbs Draw: 5
His rout in the Group 3 Levmoss at Leopardstown (1¾m) last month marks him down as the emerging force in the staying ranks. His pedigree strongly suggests this marathon trip will be within range and he should make a bold bid to provide his trainer with a record-extending eighth win in this.
Trainer: Richard Hannon Jockey: Rossa Ryan Age: 4 Weight: 9st 3lbs Draw: 7
Very smart colt who was runner-up in the Derby and St Leger last year. Wasn’t at his best in the Arc on final start but he remains a top staying prospect. Comes here without a prep run, though.
Trainer: Brian Ellison Jockey: Ben Robinson Age: 4 Weight: 9st 3lbs Draw: 6
Big improver for this yard last year, culminating with excellent 1½ lengths second (Stradivarius third) to Trueshan in Long Distance Cup here in November. Stradivarius took his revenge in the Yorkshire Cup but he performed with credit in third and this step up to 2½m should be right up his street.
Trainer: M. Delzangles Jockey: Gerald Mosse Age: 5 Weight: 9st 1lbs Draw: 3
Smart stayer but behind Trueshan and Stradivarius in Cadran at Longchamp last autumn. Her 2 efforts this year have been no more than respectable and it’s hard to believe she won’t find a few too strong.
Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: William Buick Age: 6 Weight: 9st 1lbs Draw: 8
Produced a very smart handicap performance when second to Buzz (pair long way clear) in last year’s Cesarewitch at Newmarket (2¼m). Also won a Grade 3 hurdle in February but latest Punchestown fourth in that sphere only respectable. Others preferred.
Trainer: Anthony Mullins Jockey: J. M. Sheridan Age: 7 Weight: 9st 1lbs Draw: 4
2020 Cadran winner who was an excellent second to Subjectivist in this 12 months ago. Warmed up for this year’s renewal by taking the Sagaro here (2m) in April. Likely to give another good account of herself.
Ascot Gold Cup tips
Matt Chapman: Ground conditions mean I will give STRADIVARIUS another go to make it four Gold Cups for the Gosdens and Frankie Dettori. My hope was given a shocking ride in this last year and is clearly not quite as good as he once was. But he’s still got ability and there aren’t many horses who truly stay this extreme distance so the pool of opposition is thin on the ground. He’s got every chance. Maybe it’s heart over head. We’ll see.
Rory Delargy: KYRPIOS looks a much-improved performer this year and is just preferred to Stradivarius, who retains most of his ability but is beginning to look vulnerable at the highest level.
Mick Fitzgerald: I can’t help it and I know I have a soft spot for STRADIVARIUS but he is so much happier on better ground and some of his finishing sectional splits at York were superb. Even though he’s an eight-year-old, I still think he can get it done and win an amazing fourth Ascot Gold Cup.
Timeform: KYPRIOS has looked a stayer of serious potential in Ireland this spring and is taken to improve past more-established pair Stradivarius and Princess Zoe and provide his trainer with an eighth success in the meeting showpiece. Tashkhan will relish this return to 2½m and is one who could go well at likely bigger odds, while Trueshan will be major player if turning out (reportedly unlikely to run if the ground stays good to firm).
Ruby Walsh: Willie Mullins has Burning Victory in this one and she has an each-way chance. She might land a place. I’m going with Aidan O’Brien’s KYPRIOS. He’s the up-and-coming horse and Ryan Moore is very sweet on him. I fancy him to get the better of the ageing Stradivarius.
Jason Weaver: Having put up a smart performance at York behind Stradivarius, we know Brian Ellison’s TASHKHAN is not totally ground dependent. That is a big feather in his cap as a few in the featured Gold Cup would prefer some juice in the ground, which is not going to arrive. The 2m 4f trip looks sure to squeeze some more improvement from him and he can definitely get a slice of the action each-way at a massive price.
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