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Gold Cup preview

The feature on Thursday's card at Royal Ascot is the Gold Cup for Europe's best stayers. Regular contributor James Jack, @materialista27, returns with a detailed look at this great race.

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The Gold Cup

The Gold Cup is a Group 1 race open to horses aged four years or older. It is run over a distance of 2 miles and 4 furlongs. It is Britain's most prestigious staying race. Contrary to popular belief the actual title of the race does not include the word "Ascot".

The Gold Cup is the first leg of Britain's Stayers‘ Triple Crown, followed by the Goodwood Cup and the Doncaster Cup. The last horse to win all three races in the same year was Double Trigger in 1995.

The Gold Cup is one of three perpetual trophies at the Royal Ascot meeting, along with the Royal Hunt Cup and the Queen‘s Vase, which can be kept permanently by the winning owners. A number of horses have won it more than once, and the most successful is the majestic Yeats who recorded his fourth victory in 2009 at the age of 8. The most successful trainers in the race are Sir Henry and Aidan O’Brien the latter looking to add to his haul this year. 4 year olds carry 9 stones and 5 year olds and older carry an extra 2lbs. £198,485 to the winner, £75,250 to the runner up and £37,660 to the third.

1. Askar Tau
7yo
OR - 110
George Baker for Marcus Tregoning
Won the Sagaro Stakes last year, but none of the other runners have won a race, and neither has Askar Tau. He also won two legs of the Stayers’ Triple Crown in 2009, but again, beat nobody. Seems to be a consistent beast as he’s hovered between 102 and 110 on the official ratings for the last 3 years. He would need a Ben Johnson like effort to win this one, and in an Olympic year, who knows.
Best Odds: 50/1 (SkyBet)

2. Bridge Of Gold
6yo
OR - 102
Ryan Moore for Mikael Magnusson
I have no idea what this horse is doing in this field. Furthest he’s been is 1m6f in the Ebor 2 years ago. He hasn’t won since taking a 10f handicap in January 2010. Looks like the only horse you could ever see be outpaced in a marathon. Donkey, priced as such.
Best Odds: 125/1 (Stan James)

3. Caucus
5yo
OR - 104
William Buick for John Gosden
Erm, well at least he’s not a maiden. That’s pretty much it.
Best Odds: 100/1 (Bet365)

4. Fame And Glory
6yo
OR - 120
Jamie Spencer for Aidan O’Brien
Finally some Group 1 horses for this race. Defending champion, and reigning BCS Long Distance champion, he was sluggish in his seasonal reappearance at Navan although he still won despite conceding 10lbs to Unaccompanied. Beat Opinion Poll on his last two appearances at Ascot and will appreciate stepping back up in trip. It’s unfortunate that he ran into Sea the Stars in his Derby and he’s been vastly overshadowed by two of the greatest of all time this week in Frankel and Black Caviar. Any other year and he’d be the star attraction his former stablemate Yeats was. He could yet emulate the old fella, but in order to win 4 gold cups, you must win your second. The rest of the field will be closer to F&G this year and some of the younger additions to the field will truly test him, so if he can get his head in front the should get the attention he deserves.
Best Odds: Evens (William Hill)

5. Nehaam
6yo
OR - 110
Paul Hanagan for John Gosden
Was a not-too-distant 4th in the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day last year at Ascot. His last win was in a 1m4f handicap here last July off 99 and although I’m sure he’s worth more credit than that, I don’t see how he’ll challenge over 2m4f against two of the three horses that beat him over 2m last Autumn and three 4yos who are getting their first chance to run in these length of staying contests. He might run a giant run for a place, but I wouldn’t put anything serious on him.
Best Odds: 40/1 (Stan James)

6. Opinion Poll
6yo
OR - 116
Mikel Barzalona for Mahmood Al Zarooni
A creditable second in this contest last year and followed that effort up with victory in the Dubai Gold Cup and Henry II Stakes at Sandown, both over 2 miles. In fact hasn’t been out of the front two since finishing 4th in the Prix Vicomtesse Vigier at Longchamp last May. He was a disappointing 2nd in the Doncaster Cup to Saddler’s Rock but he did concede 17lbs to his younger rival that day and despite that 4 length defeat I still make him 7lbs better off in this race, and that’s without taking into account the allowance he should be afforded for carrying Frankie Dettori in that race. Let’s not forget he’s a two time Lonsdale Cup winner and should he be given a professional ride, he could go pretty close in this.
Best Odds: 11/2 (William Hill)

7. Colour Vision
4yo
OR - 117
Frankie Dettori for Saeed Bin Suroor
This year’s Sagaro winner and finished 3rd in the Cesarewitch last year. His run in the LDC at the tail end of last season looks flattering as he loses 9 of the 11lbs he received from Fame and Glory and Opinion 
Poll that day. He’s also moved from Mark Johnston to Saeed bin Suroor this winter and although he should still be respected as a trainer, he’s not as good as he used to be. Although it was unthinkable 5 years ago, I believe he is now 2nd string trainer to Al Zarooni. I’m not sure this horse will be the phenom Godolphin and particularly Fraudie Dettori thinks, but in time he could be a winner of this race. He beat Red Cadeaux in that Sagaro Stakes and he went on to win the Yorkshire Cup, so although he’s not to be sniffed at, I don’t think he’s the winner of this race.
Best Odds: 5/1 (Bet365)

8. Gulf Of Naples
4yo
OR - 107
Silvestre De Sousa for Mark Johnston
Another handicapper masquerading in a Group 1 race. 6 length 3rd to Ile De Re in the Dr. Marwan Koukash Cup at the start of May followed by another 6 length defeat by Cavalryman in a Listed contest at York. Despite going up 9lbs in the official ratings in those two races, he still looks woefully outclassed and isn’t good enough to win this race.
Best Odds: 50/1 (SkyBet)

9. Saddler’s Rock
4yo
OR - 114
Johnny Murtagh for John Oxx
The other great Irish hope. Last season’s Doncaster Cup winner as a 3yo, that form flatters him. He was 3rd in a Listed contest over 1m6f at the Curragh last August, but he finished a length and a quarter behind Fame and Glory despite receiving 17lbs. As previously mentioned, he beat Opinion Poll in that Doncaster Cup in receipt of 17lbs, but finished 2nd to Midnight Soprano in the Saval Beg in heavy conditions less than a fortnight ago, so it is a big question mark how much that took out of him and what he has left for a 2 and a half mile slog round Ascot in much quicker conditions and racing up in class. The only good line to take from that run in he finished a length in front of Unaccompanied despite giving the Weld horse 10lbs. Given that performance, you’d think he’d be well in with Fame and Glory, but no, as the Saval Beg was only a fortnight after the Vintage Crop that Fame and Glory won by a neck Saddler’s ideal trip may be two miles, and if John Oxx is as shrewd as he looks, he might put the cotton wool on this won and send him to Flemington. Don’t fancy his chances in this but I’ve been wrong before, only once or twice but still, it’s happened.
Best Odds: 9/2 (Ladbrokes)

ADVICE
6pts Fame and Glory @ Evs (Hills)
1pt EW Nehaam @ 40/1 (Stan James)
1pt RFC Fame and Glory with Opinion Poll (Whoever the hell you like:)

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