Ascot Gold Cup: Order Of St George to see off Stradivarius
Order Of St George and Stradivarius dominate the Gold Cup betting at Royal Ascot and we're siding with the former to enhance an impressive past record in this marathon race.
The six-year-old gave Aidan O'Brien a record seventh victory in the Ladies' Day showpiece in 2016 and was beaten a short head by Big Orange when defending his crown 12 months ago.
O'Brien's star stayer has warmed up for this return to Berkshire with smooth wins in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan and the Saval Beg at Leopardstown.
"Everything has gone well with him since his last run at Navan," commented Ballydoyle trainer O'Brien, who took this prize four years in a row with Yeats from 2006 to 2009.
"We are as happy with him going into the Gold Cup as we have been with him in any of the other years he has gone there."
O'Brien also struck with Fame And Glory in 2011 and Leading Light four years ago and there is no better handler for getting such an old stalwart to peak on the big occasion.
Stradivarius is a worthy opponent after powering home in last month's Yorkshire Cup on his seasonal reappearance.
John Gosden's colt is clearly on the upgrade but does still have a bit to find with Order Of St George on October's British Champions Long Distance Cup form at this venue.
The four-year-old was a length back in third as our selection took top honours that day and now reopposes on 7lb worse terms.
Frankie Dettori also admitted his mount's stamina must be taken on trust in this two-and-half-mile event.
"He is a bonny little horse and likes fast ground," said the rider. "We know Stradivarius stays two miles, but another half a mile is a long way.
"Order Of St George is a great champion and is going to be a tough nut to crack."
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The most eagerly-awaited race of the week is the Ascot Gold Cup run, normally a race for the purists but which this year throws up a cracking field which will appeal to the punters as well. Order Of St George is the favourite this year to repeat his 2016 victory. He is a very talented but quirky type and we are prepared to oppose him this year with the John Gosden-trained Stradivarius, who won the Queens Vase at the meeting last year. He is the new kid on the block and only a four-year-old but travels so sweetly that we feel this race is his to lose.