How to Bet the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

June 19th, 2018

It stands alone, a special remnant of times gone by. A Group 1 race held over the testing distance of 2 ½ miles—twice the length of the Kentucky Derby.

Those are the remarkable conditions of the Gold Cup (Eng-I) on Thursday at , a race often referred to as the Ascot Gold Cup. It’s considered to be the ultimate test of stamina in Europe, and the 2018 renewal is absolutely packed with talented stayers who promise to put on a good show.

The heavy favorite is expected to be #2 Order of St. George, unquestionably one of the best long-distance runners we’ve seen over the last few years. Trained by Aidan O’Brien, who has won seven of the last twelve editions of the Gold Cup, Order of St. George was a clear-cut winner of this event in 2016 and missed by less than a head against the talented Big Orange in 2017, so we know he has no trouble with this course and distance.

Order of St. George has also been on quite a roll over the last year, winning all five of his starts going 1 ¾ miles or farther, including a couple of easy wins at Navan and Leopardstown to kick off 2018. He’ll be tough to beat in the Gold Cup, but his odds will reflect his talent, and he could start at a very short price.

That’s why I’m tempted to take at least a small shot at beating Order of St. George with #6 Vazirabad. A three-time winner of the two-mile Dubai Gold Cup (UAE-II) at Meydan in Dubai, Vazirabad has been something of a winning machine throughout his career, compiling a record of 15 wins and five seconds from 22 starts. Even better, he has never—never!—finished out of the exacta while competing 1 ¾ miles or farther, and last fall he won the Qatar Prix du Cadran (Fr-I) at Chantilly going half a furlong farther than the distance of the Ascot Gold Cup.

Vazirabad's victory in the Dubai Gold Cup in March was particularly eye-catching in that he looked beaten on the far turn before unleashing a tremendous turn-of-foot (rather rare in races this long) to win going away. He then prepped for Royal Ascot by winning the 1 7/8-mile Prix Vicomtesse Vigier (Fr-II) last month at Longchamp over the capable group stakes winner Marmelo, so Vazirabad appears to be maintaining good form as he takes his first shot at the Ascot Gold Cup. I think he has a legitimate chance to out-stay Order of St. George and post a mild upset.

#9 Stradivarius, who defeated Big Orange in the two-mile Qatar Goodwood Cup Stakes (Eng-I) last summer, started off 2018 with a clear-cut win in the 1 ¾-mile Yorkshire Cup (Eng-II) at York and is among the other main contenders in this race. #5 Torcedor will be a bigger price, but he held his own against Order of St. George in the two-mile QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup (Eng-II) at Ascot last fall and has a chance to finish in the top three.

Here’s how I would play the race:

$5 exacta: 2,6 with 2,6 ($10) $3 trifecta: 2 with 6,9 with 5,6,9 ($12) $2 trifecta: 6 with 2,9 with 2,5,9 ($8)

Good luck!