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Gold Cup (Group 1)
- Royal Ascot
Raced over the 2m 3f 210y distance, this race will be a test of stamina and guts as twelve go to post for the Gold Cup of 2017. See our Gold Cup tips and betting preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Winner of the race last season and third in the Arc, Order Of St George is likely to be very popular but he will struggle to go the break neck pace of BIG ORANGE, who is better than ever this season for connections. Winner of the 2016 Goodwood Cup, he returned at Sandown in the Henry II Stakes where he galloped his rivals into the floor and the same looks likely to happen in this as he should relish the extra distance. All heart and a horse who will give you his all, you know you’re getting a run for your money with him and it’s hard to see this tenacious six year old getting beaten under James Doyle.
1 BIG ORANGE – Winner of the Goodwood Cup back in July 2016, he returned as good as ever this season when winning the Henry II Stakes at Sandown, making all and galloping on relentlessly all the way to the line. That sums his style up to a tee, setting a strong gallop throughout before turning on the afterburners in the home straight in a ‘catch me if you can’ style and he doesn’t look for the catching in this. This extra distance should suit him and he’s likely to be left alone out in front due to the trip, so he can set his own fractions. He’s won here at Ascot in the past so the course is no problem and he will have his favoured conditions today, so a big run looks the cards and he has to be respected.
2 NEARLY CAUGHT – Useful at his best, with a career peak coming when behind a few of these in the British Champions Long Distance Cup back in October, finishing fifth. More is needed though on the best of his form and he’s likely to be found wanting late on, though his run in the Prix du Cadran behind Quest For More did prove his stamina. Hard to see him landing a blow in this.
3 ORDER OF ST GEORGE – Winner of the the race in impressive fashion last season by two lengths, Aidan O’Brien’s five year old ended the season on disappointing terms with himself, beaten in the Irish St Leger, unable to reel in Wicklow Brave who had first run that day. He did run two more times, finishing a creditable third in the Prx d’Arc de Triomphe, though he was bitterly disappointing when fourth in the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day. He returned this season with a good win in the Saval Beg at Leopardstown, but a key recurring theme with this five year old is that he can get himself into trouble in his races, beaten as a favourite on a number of occasions. A race of this distance means he’s likely to be able to get himself out of trouble, but it is a risk with backing him and despite setting the standard, he isn’t straightforward and can be taken on.
4 QUEST FOR MORE – High class at his best for Roger Charlton, winning the Group 1 Prix du Cadran at Chantilly in October, but he has shown no signs he is near that form in two runs this season for connections. He was well beaten on return in the Dubai Gold Cup and he took a further backwards step when well beaten behind Big Orange in the Henry II Stakes. Step up in trip is a likely plus and he’s a confirmed stayer, but he looks set to struggle with reversing form with Big Orange and he’s another who can place at best in this contest.
5 SHEIKHZAYEDROAD – Third behind Order Of St George in this race last season when hanging badly up the home straight all but ended his chances, he finished off last season with a flourish with two big victories for trainer David Simcock. Winning the Doncaster Cup in September, he stayed on much the strongest despite an awkward head carriage to win the Long Distance Cup at Ascot in October. He has had two runs at Meydan this season, finishing third on both occasion with his latest run in the Dubai Gold Cup a near career best for this likeable son of Dubawi. He clearly is just as good this season and he’s proven in the past he runs well here at Ascot, so a big run would be of no surprise.
6 TORCEDOR – Two from two for the Jessie Harrington yard, winning the Group 3 Vintage Crop Stakes on his latest start when ahead of Order Of St George. Whether he can hold that form though is very much up for debate, as that classy rival will appreciate the step back up in trip and a distance like this is very much unknown for this five year old. He’s a possible place contender with conditions to suit, but hard to see him winning this.
7 TRIP TO PARIS – Won this race in 2015 with a strong late surge but he clearly isn’t the force of old, last seen at Nottingham where he could only manage fourth in a much weaker race than this. On that basis he remains opposable despite Ed Dunlop’s yard going well at present and there are far more solid options in this if you look elsewhere.
8 HARBOUR LAW – Won the St Leger last season for Laura Mongan and he may well have needed the run when well beaten on seasonal return here in the Sagaro Stakes in May. He still remains with potential and he’s interesting upped to this distance after only seven runs with Jim Crowley taking the ride. Possible each way contender if staying but an unlikely winner against some of these who simply have better form.
9 HARRISON – Produced a sound effort back on the turf on his latest start at York in the Grand Cup, finishing fourth after looking one paced towards the finish, which could indicate this step up in trip will suit. There isn’t however, much in his form book to suggest he can compete at this level though and he looks booked for a struggle unless making marked improvement for Mick Channon. Others far more likely.
10 PRICE OF ARRAN – Finished second in a very muddling Group 3 here that was won by Sweet Selection in May, keeping on strongly but never able to challenge in that slowly run affair. On ratings there is clearly more needed but he remains unexposed at the staying distances and it’d be no shock to see this four year old snatching a place late on if he can cope with an even greater stamina test. Interesting.
11 ENDLESS TIME – Half sister to a three mile hurdles winner in Courage and this five year old mare should appreciate a proper stamina test for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin, finishing second to Vazirabad in Group 1 company out in France on her penultimate start over the 1m 7f distance. She was far from disgraced on her latest start in the Yorkshire Cup when fourth to Dartmouth and she is a fascinating proposition upped to this distance under William Buick.
12 SHE IS NO LADY – Has a lot to find on official ratings which immediately puts her on the back foot, with her third on return behind Big Orange in the Henry II Stakes a respectable effort at most as she was well beaten when all is said and done. This extreme trip could help her find more improvement but she remains with too much to find to make any appeal for the minor honours.
13 SIMPLE VERSE – Proved her staying credentials when winning the Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster in September, with her third in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot in October – where she was by no means disgraced – staying on all the time at her first attempt at the two mile distance. She returned this season with a very good run when second in the Yorkshire Cup behind Dartmouth, headed near the line and almost confirming she needed further. She is unexposed at these trips and needs to be taken seriously for the placings for a yard in good form at present.
14 SWEET SELECTION – Winner of the Cesarewitch on her penultimate start, she clearly loves a marathon and although she has lots to find on official ratings with most of these, her stamina is more than likely to bring her into play. She returned this season with a good win in the Sagaro Stakes at this track, keeping on well despite the fact the moderate pace that probably didn’t suit her on that occasion. Her stamina is all but confirmed for this far and she has her ground which boosts her claims further. She probably lacks the class for win purposes, but a place wouldn’t be out of the question, especially as Big Orange is likely to make this a stiff test.