Ascot Gold Cup: A look at the favourites

June 2, 2019 8:48 PM

There are just a few days to go until Royal Ascot gets underway, and the Gold Cup will once again take centre stage as 20 entrants all compete for a place in Ascot folklore. Some of the most iconic moments from the five day event have stemmed from the prestigious race which is run on the Thursday, and the 2019 edition promises to contain all the thrills and spills racing fans have come to expect.

From Yeats’ four consecutive wins from 2006 to 2009, to trainer Aidan O’Brien’s seven wins and Estimate’s stunning victory in 2013, the Gold Cup has seen it all, but how are this year’s contenders shaping up? We’ll run you through the top six frontrunners ahead of the Gold Cup, starting with the favourite and last year’s winner, Stradivarius.

Stradivarius – 6/4F

It’ll likely take a monumental effort to derail Stradivarius as he embarks on becoming the first back-to-back winner since Yeats ten years ago, and his form and ability as one of the world’s best stayers will surely see him take the honours once again. Stradivarius has demonstrated his worth over the last two years in particular, and it’ll be something of a small surprise if he doesn’t win.

Cross Counter – 9/2

If Stradivarius is to come up short in the Gold Cup, it’ll likely be down to the performance of Cross Counter who is also coming into the race in very good form. The four-year-old has already won the Dubai Gold Cup this year as well as the Lexus Melbourne Cup in November 2018, and has already run twice at Ascot (winning the Woodford Reserve Handicap) so he is well worth a punt:

Dee Ex Bee – 11/2

Dee Ex Bee will be coming into the Gold Cup with relatively mixed form; he has won his last two races at the Matchbook VIP Henry II Stakes (Sandown, 2019) and the Longines Sagaro Stakes (Ascot, 2019) but his performances in 2018 leave much to be desired. Trainer Mark Johnston will be quietly confident of a good performance but the strong field might be too much for Dee Ex Bee. However, it would be naïve to rule him out altogether. 

Flag of Honour 10/1

O’Brien’s Flag of Honour comes in at a tempting 10/1, but he hasn’t won a meeting since September 2018 when he won the Irish St Leger at Curragh. Since then, the Irish thoroughbred has finished fourth in the British Champions Long Distance (Ascot, 2018) and fifth in the Prix Royal-Oak (Chantilly, 2018) but does have three successive runner-up finishes in 2019. It’ll be a tall order for Flag of Honour to win, but not impossible.

Kew Gardens – 10/1

Another Irish and O’Brien entry comes in the shape of Kew Gardens, who is also priced at 10/1. The four-year-old’s form is somewhat indifferent but he has tasted success at Royal Ascot, winning the Queens Vase and also won the St Leger at Doncaster in September 2018, so he can certainly mix it with the best of them. Last time out, Kew Gardens finished second to Defoe in the Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom, so he’s worth strong consideration at least.

Southern France – 10/1

This will be Southern France’s Gold Cup debut and although he pushed Kew Gardens hard in the Queen’s Vase last year, he’ll likely find it tougher in the big one with some stronger and more fancied opponents. To date, Southern France has two victories from nine flat races but it’s been over a year since his last victory, winning the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Yeats Stakes at Navan in May 2018. Like Flag of Honour and Kew Gardens, you can put on Southern France at 10/1 which is a little bit short but he’ll be worth considering nonetheless.