Ascot Gold Cup

The Ascot Gold Cup is arguably the most prestigious long-distance flat race in the world.

The race was first run in 1807, making it the longest surviving race at Royal Ascot.

Despite the trend towards speed over stamina in the breeding industry, the Gold Cup has endured as one of the highlights of the British flat racing season.

Yeats famously won the race for four consecutive seasons while other multiple winners include Sagaro, Ardross and Stradivarius.

Ascot Gold Cup

The Race

The Ascot Gold Cup is still widely regarded as the highlight of Royal Ascot and is the feature race on day 3, known as Ladies’ Day.

The gruelling two and a half-mile event is open to four-year-olds and upwards and is ran at the prestigious Ascot racecourse.

It is the first leg of the Stayers’ Triple Crown which is made up by the Goodwood Cup and the Doncaster Cup.

The popularity of the race owes much to the fact that the same horses return year after year. Very few flat racers truly stay this marathon trip and top-class stayers like Yeats and Stradivarius can dominate the division for several seasons.

Famous Ascot Gold Cup Winners & History

The inaugural running of the Ascot Gold Cup in 1807 was won by the three-year-old Master Jackey. The enormous prestige of the Gold Cup once attracted Epsom Derby winners with Ocean Swell winning both races in 1945.

The last three-year-old to win was Gainsborough in 1918 but this age group is no longer eligible.

The first horse to win three Gold Cups was Sagaro (1975 – 1977), trained in France by Francois Boutin and ridden by Lester Piggott. The horse is remembered by the Sagaro Stakes, an early-season Gold Cup trial at Ascot.

The late seventies and early eighties were the golden age for the Ascot Gold Cup. Le Moss won back-to-back Gold Cups in 1979 and 1980 for Henry Cecil, defeating the Irish-trained Ardross in three epic encounters for the stayers’ Triple Crown. Le Moss was retired to stud and Ardross was purchased by Charles St George and moved to Henry Cecil’s stable. He won the Gold Cup in 1981 and 1982 and was beaten only a head in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on his final start.

Yeats eclipsed the record of Sagaro by winning four successive Ascot Gold Cups between 2006 and 2009. He had been favourite for the Epsom Derby in 2004 but was forced to miss the race through injury.

A statue of Yeats stands proudly in the parade ring at Ascot racecourse to honour this great champion.

Her Majesty The Queen fulfilled a lifelong dream when Estimate won the Gold Cup in 2013. Her Majesty became the first reigning monarch to win the race when Ryan Moore drove Estimate home in front of a jubilant crowd.

The staying star of recent seasons has been John Gosden’s Stradivarius, completing a hat-trick of victories between 2018 and 2020.

Key Ascot Gold Cup Trials

The key trials for the Ascot Gold Cup are the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot and the Henry II Stakes at Sandown Park.

Double Trigger (1995), Colour Vision (2012) and Estimate (2013) all won the Sagaro Stakes before winning the Gold Cup. Mr Dinos (2003), Papineau (2004) and Big Orange (2017) are among those to win the Henry II Stakes before taking the top stayers’ prize.

Yeats used The Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan as a stepping-stone to his Ascot victories in 2007 and 2008.

O’Brien used the same path for Fame And Glory (2011) and Leading Light (2014).

It is possible for top stayers to emerge from handicaps, Trip To Paris doing exactly that in 2015. He won the Chester Cup off an official rating of 95 before finishing second in the Henry II Stakes and winning at Ascot.

Ascot Gold Cup Betting Trends

Favourites have a fine record in the Ascot Gold Cup, winning eight of the last twelve renewals.

Stradivarius started favourite for each of his three victories while the O’Brien trio of Yeats, Fame And Glory and Leading Light were also market leaders.

Shock results are rare in this event where a proven stayer tends to dominate the betting.

Rite Of Passage (2010) did spring a surprise when returned at 20-1 for Dermot Weld and the late Pat Smullen.

Trip To Paris (2015) started at 12-1 but all other recent winners have been prominent in the Gold Cup betting.

Ascot Gold Cup Stats

  • Horses aged four to six have dominated this event.
  • Only defending champions Drum Taps (1993) and Yeats (2008 and 2009) have managed to win beyond the age of six in modern times.
  • Almost all recent winners had raced within the previous 2 months prior to Royal Ascot.
  • A high percentage of those had already won at least once at Group 1 to 3 level and were rated 117 or above.
  • There are very few flat races over this extreme distance and most of the field will be going into unknown territory in the home straight. It is a big risk to support horses that do not have proven form over two miles or further.
  • Fillies and mares rarely take part in the Ascot Gold Cup but Estimate proved that the fairer sex can take the ultimate staying prize.

Top Trainers and Jockeys

Lester Piggott is by far the most successful jockey in the history of the Gold Cup with eleven victories. As well as his hat-trick aboard Sagaro, his other victories include Gladness (1958), Le Moss (1979) and Ardross (1981, 1982).

Frankie Dettori has eight Gold Cup victories to his credit, including three aboard Stradivarius.

Aidan O’Brien is the leading trainer in Ascot Gold Cup history with seven winners. Four of his victories were provided by Yeats with his most recent success coming with Order Of St George in 2016.

Betting on the Ascot Gold Cup 2021

Ante-post betting on the Ascot Gold Cup is available throughout the season.

It remains one of the busiest betting markets of Royal Ascot with punters enjoying the better of things in recent years. Bookmakers often offer enhanced prices on the favourite to a limited stake for new customers including 50-1 with Paddy Power in 2020 to a £1 stake!

The odds for the 2021 race can be currently found with the following bookmakers, also check out our recommended best horse racing betting sites:

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Summary

The Gold Cup is one of the highlights of Royal Ascot week and the prospect of true champions defending their crown makes it popular with the punters.

The racing public have a special affection for top stayers like Double Trigger, Persian Punch, Yeats and more recently Stradivarius.

With a long and rich history, it remains one of the great races of the flat racing season.