The Ascot Gold Cup is one of the most prestigious events of the horse racing schedule, and punters will already be looking ahead to the featured race of the Royal Ascot festival. At present, the market leader is Stradivarius, and it seems like John Gosden’s horse will take some beating.
The five-year-old is undoubtedly the one to beat. He has been in great form as of late; winning all of his last six races. His form at Ascot certainly only encourages fans of the horse to put more money on it; as he has won on each of his last three visits. Stradivarius has already made over £1 million for his owner, B E Nielsen; but a win in the Gold Cup would undoubtedly be the highlight of his career. There will be a few runners in the race that Gosden will be wary of and would worry that they could catch his superstar off guard.
The most significant threat will come in the form of Charlie Appleby’s Cross Counter. Aside from the market leader, nobody comes into the race in better form. He has won four in his last five; including the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan and the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington. The pedigree is certainly there, and punters should take his recent form on board before looking for reasons to back against him. He will be within contention down the final third, and should the four-year-old have enough in the tank; then he will push Stradivarius right to the end.
He certainly has a knack for turning up at the big meetings, and that was evident at last year’s Royal Ascot festival. He competed in the Woodford Reserve Handicap and held off the intense competition from Berkshire Royal to win by a commanding distance. However, unlike, who has a marvellous record at Ascot; this was only one of two runs for Cross Counter at the track. In the other meeting, he ended up finishing fourth behind Baghdad in the King George V Stakes. Punters certainly shouldn’t rule him out.
Dee Ex Bee
The betting markets can typically tell us things without even seeing the horses and the markets are telling us that Dee Ex Bee has been performing well in training and could spring a shock in the Gold Cup. The Mark Johnston trained horse was opened in the betting at 20/1, before dropping to 10/1 and then 8/1 before settling at a price of 11/2 for the time being. The four-year-old has started the season in marvellous form, and the recent win at Sandown got everyone talking about Dee Ex Bee being a possible Gold Cup winner.
Under the stewardship of Silvestre De Sousa, he was unrelenting and sprinted away from his rivals. Ascot experience is something that all punters will be looking for in this horse, and he has won on his only appearance at the track. This victory came in the Longines Sagaro Stakes in May, where after being set off at favourite he dominated the field to hold off Raymond Tusk by two-lengths.
Called To The Bar
One horse that could present a massive shock is Called To The Bar for Mme Pia Brandt. The relatively unknown trainer will enter with this five-year-old, who has sustained solid form throughout his career. He has four wins in his last six runs, with two in his previous. He comes in with excellent pedigree, but this will be the first time that it was run in the United Kingdom. Most of his runs have come in either France or Australia. The competition will be a step up but could present value in each way bet for punters, as it has never finished any lower than third place.