Royal Ascot: Gold Cup Ante-post preview
For many racing fans, the Gold Cup is the highlight of the five-day Royal Ascot meeting.
In 2021, Stradivarius seeks to to emulate Yeats by winning the historic race for the fourth year running but, admirable though he may be, is by no means a certainty to do so.
Stradivarius stands on the cusp of history
Now a 7-year-old, Stradivarius finished well-beaten on his final start of 2020, but returned to winning form on his reappearance in the Sagaro Stakes here in late April. Trainer John Gosden said afterwards that he would head straight to Royal Ascot and, back over 2 miles 4 furlongs on his favoured going, he must have every chance of recording his seventh win, in all, at the Berkshire course. For a horse with an abundance of stamina, he is blessed with an extraordinary turn of foot.
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Subjectivist looks a progressive young stayer
Subjectivist has yet to race beyond 2 miles, but won the Prix-Royal Oak at Longchamp last October and the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan on his reappearance in late March, so warrants respect. Of course, he has his stamina to prove over an extra half a mile, has done all his winning on good or softer going and, officially, has 8lb to find with Stradivarius, so has questions to answer. On the plus side, he is unexposed as an out-and-out stayer and may be capable of further improvement, so he cannot be dismissed out of hand.
Trueshan should remain competitive
Trueshan makes his first foray into Group 1 company and is similar to Subjectivist insofar that he has yet to win beyond 2 miles or on going faster than good. He was an impressive winner of the British Champions Long Distance Cup, over 2 miles here, last October, when a below-par Stradivarius finished only twelfth, beaten 62 lengths, but it would be unwise to take that form at face value. Nevertheless, he confirmed his well-being when beaten three-quarters of a length by Japan in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester on his reappearance in early May and remains one to consider.
Spanish Mission could be the surprise package
Strictly speaking, Spanish Mission is held by Stradivarius, Trueshan and Subjectivist on various pieces of form, last season and this, and looks to have work to do to trouble the market leaders. That said, his comfortable 2¾-length victory over Santiago in the Yorkshire Cup last month bears close inspection. He stays at least 2 miles 2 furlongs, having won the Doncaster Cup over that distance last season, and has winning form on good to firm, good and good to soft going, so is not a totally forlorn hope.
Ocean Wind has plenty on his plate
The winner of the Cesarewitch Trial at Newmarket last September, Ocean Wind has officially improved by 23lb in the interim and was only beaten a length, at level weights, by Stradivarius in the Sagaro Stakes. Roger Teal’s 5-year-old let that form down, somewhat, when on third of five, beaten 15½ lengths, in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown, but could be a different proposition back on faster ground. That said, he has yet to win a Group race, of any description, and faces a tough task.
Stradivarius sets a high standard and his proven ability to act on fast ground should do his chances no harm. However, Spanish Mission is another who should enjoy the likely underfoot conditions and, like Stradivarius, has a decent turn of foot for a stayer. At a a double-figure price, he makes no little appeal.
Selection: Spanish Mission (12/1 with Betfred)
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