Order of St George Favourite to Slay Group 1 Gold Cup Foes

A glance at the list of recent winners of the showcase Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup reminds us that the outstanding Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien has won the race no less than six times in the last 10 years, including four times with the superb Yeats, who dominated the staying division between 2006-9.

Order of St George (11/8), Favorite to Win

Order of St George Gold Cup Royal Ascot

Fame and Glory in 2011, and Leading Light in 2014 were the two subsequent big winners for the Ballydoyle-based handler who appears to have a massive chance of enhancing his already tremendous strike-rate in the two-and-a-half-mile contest with last year’s runaway Irish St Leger hero, Order of St George.

Run this year under the title, the Gold Cup in Honour of The Queen’s 90th Birthday [1], the bookies will doubtless be hoping to enhance celebrations of the monarch’s nine decades by seeing one of the hottest favourites of the meeting beaten – but it won’t be easy. On all known form and on official ratings his rivals have at least 9lbs to find to beat the current 11/8 market leader if he runs up to form.

The signs were certainly there at Leopardstown earlier this month that the Galileo Gold colt will be spot on for Ascot as he landed the listed Saval Beg Stakes over 14 furlongs with the minimum of fuss. This was his first run since stunning racegoers with an 11-length romp in the Group 1 Irish St Leger at the Curragh last September, where Brian Meehan’s Agent Murphy finished best of the rest.

Order of St George has won on both soft and firm ground, so the only real question is his ability to stay the extra six furlongs of the Gold Cup? Many have looked good until heading into the final furlong, and it is only there that punters will know just whether or not O’Brien’s potential new star stayer has what it takes to win the showcase event of the week.

Max Dynamite (9/1), Top Contender

Max Dynamite (9/1) certainly wasn’t stopping when he flew home and failed by just a head to land the world’s richest two-mile race, the Emirates Melbourne Cup at Flemington in November, and he will be fitter after running third behind Pallasator in the Group 3 Henry II Stakes at Sandown last month.

Pallasator (14/1), Value Bet

Aidan O'Brien Gold Cup Royal Ascot

A high-class dual purpose performer, Max Dynamite represents good each-way value, as does Pallasator himself, a strapping Sir Mark Prescott-trained seven-year-old who just keeps galloping as he showed last term when winning the Group 2 Doncaster Cup over two-and-a-quarter miles. He looks overpriced at up to 14/1.

Other Contenders

Mizzou (10/1) was staying on well at the finish of last year’s Ascot Gold Cup and was beaten less than four lengths into a closing seventh in the race won by Trip to Paris.

He has already hit the target this campaign by winning the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot in April, where he beat the popular Clever Cookie (16/1), the northern-trained gelding who has subsequently franked the form with a good victory at York in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup.

Clever Cookie may also line up on Thursday and any rain would certainly aid his cause, a comment that applies equally to John Gosden’s talented Flying Officer (12/1), third behind Mizzou at Ascot  but sure to strip fitter this time. He landed a fine hattrick of wins last season with cut in the ground, culminating in a narrow defeat of Clever Cookie in the Group 2 Qipco Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot in October.

In the News

[1] vanityfair.com, William and Kate Will Attend the Royal Ascot Horse Race as Birthday Favor to the Queen, 2016