Will the Weather Dictate Who Shines in the Ascot Gold Cup?
The Oceanic band Crowded House once sang ‘everywhere you go, always take the weather with you’, and for racehorse owners and trainers, they would very much like to do that with the conditions that suit their prized assets best.
The outcome of some of the most prestigious races around the world can ultimately be determined by whether the sun is shining or rain is falling, and June’s Ascot Gold Cup is shaping up to join that group. There will be those that would prefer the fastest possible conditions, like Stradivarius and Kyprios, while the favourite in the online odds on horse racing for the Gold Cup, Trueshan, will be hoping that there’s some rain around to soften the Ascot track.
“You’d hope on soft ground that he sets the standard, we just have the see what the weather does.”
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) May 25, 2022
As far as the early forecast is concerned for 16 June, it appears as if the connections of Stradivarius and Kyprios are going to have their way. There’s plenty of sunshine and warm weather around, according to the predictions, which will ensure Ascot provides good going – assuming the rain stays away.
So, with that in mind, is there a case to suggest that the bookmakers have got it wrong and that Trueshan is not the most likely winner of the Gold Cup?
Even a quick glimpse at the CV of Alan King’s six-year-old confirms that he needs the ground to be in his favour to perform at his best. The 2021 Goodwood Cup is the perfect case in point. That two-miler became a serious war of attrition back in July on a track that was rated as heavy in places, and it was Trueshan that outlasted a field to win by the best part of four lengths.
The going was soft when the French horse defeated Stradivarius on home soil in the Prix du Cadran last season, and Ascot was described a ‘soft in places’ when Trueshan again bested Stradivarius in the Long Distance Cup.
So, if the rain falls ahead of June’s showpiece occasion, punters will have no hesitation in pulling the trigger on King’s fancy. But what if the sun shines gloriously down on England?
The trainer has already confirmed that the weather is key for his staying powerhouse, pulling him out of the Yorkshire Cup meeting after bemoaning the fast conditions. ‘This weather has got to break sooner or later, hasn’t it?’ he said during an unseasonably dry May. A possible outing at Sandown Park was also scrapped due to the quickness of the ground.
Trueshan was not among the nine declarations for the Coral Henry II Stakes at Sandown on Thursday and could instead head for a gallop at Nicky Henderson’s Seven Barrows stable for his Gold Cup warm-up 🏆
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— Racing Post (@RacingPost) May 24, 2022
If it doesn’t, Stradivarius and Kyprios will be very much on the radar for punters. The former is vying to become only the second four-time Gold Cup champion in history behind Yeats, and much of his best work has come on quick ground. His fumbling in the mud in the Goodwood Cup in 2020, where he finished 12th of 13 horses, are testament to that.
Kyprios, meanwhile, is something of an unknown quantity at the top level, but a 14-length victory in the Saval Beg Stakes in May certainly caught the eye, and trainer Aidan O’Brien knows how to shape his horses for these big races. O’Brien is a seven-time winner of the Gold Cup since 2006 alone.
So, one of the standout fixtures of the Royal Ascot meeting is shaping up nicely. But you sense it’s a race that will be as much won by what’s happening in the sky as what occurs on the ground.