History of the Race
The Gold Cup, Ascot’s oldest race and Britain’s top event for long-distance thoroughbreds, has been dominated by one horse in recent years – the incomparable Yeats. The Irish-trained bay, now retired to stud, became the only horse in Ascot history to win the Gold Cup four times in succession when taking the 2009 race, making him arguably the best stayer of all time.
The Group 1 race, the second long-distance event in the QIPCO British Champions Series, is run over 2 miles 4 furlongs (4,000 metres) and is open to four-year-olds and older. It is traditionally held on day three - ‘Ladies’ Day’ – of Royal Ascot.
The Gold Cup certainly has royal connections. The inaugural running was watched by King George III and Queen Charlotte, while the 1844 running was attended by Nicholas I of Russia, after which the event became known as the Emperor’s Plate for a short period (the Crimean War may have had something to do with the decision to change the name back again).
The trophy is one of three at Royal Ascot traditionally presented by The Queen though she won the race herself with the Sir Micahel Stoute-trained Estimate in 2013 so it was presented to her by her son, Prince Andrew.
The Gold Cup, along with the Artemis Goodwood Cup and Doncaster Cup, make up Britain’s Stayers’ Triple Crown. All three races feature in the QIPCO British Champions Series Long Distance category. The last horse to win them in the same year was Double Trigger, trained by Mark Johnston, in 1995.
Current leading jockey: Johnny Murtagh, 5 wins (1999, 2001, 2002, 2008, 2009), Frankie Dettori (1992, 1993, 1998, 2004, 2012)
Current leading trainer: Aidan O'Brien, 5 wins (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011), Saeed bin Suroor (1996, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2012)
|2013||Estimate||Ryan Moore||Sir Michael Stoute||The Queen|
|2012||Colour Vision||Frankie Dettori||Saeed bin Suroor||Godolphin|
|2011||Fame And Glory||Jamie Spencer||Aidan O'Brien||Smith/Magnier/Tabor/Hay|
|2010||Rite Of Passage||Pat Smullen||Dermot Weld||Dr R Lambe|
|2009||Yeats||Johnny Murtagh||Aidan O’Brien||Magnier/Nagle|
|2008||Yeats||Johnny Murtagh||Aidan O’Brien||Magnier/Nagle|
|2007||Yeats||Michael Kinane||Aidan O’Brien||Magnier/Nagle|
|2006||Yeats||Kieren Fallon||Aidan O’Brien||Magnier/Nagle|
|2005||Westerner||Olivier Peslier||Elie Lellouche||Ecurie Wildenstein|
|2004||Papineau||Frankie Dettori||Saeed bin Suroor||Godolphin|
|2003||Mr Dinos||Kieren Fallon||Paul Cole||Constantine Shiacolas|
|2002||Royal Rebel||Johnny Murtagh||Mark Johnston||Peter Savill|
|2001||Royal Rebel||Johnny Murtagh||Mark Johnston||Peter Savill|
|2000||Kayf Tara||Michael Kinane||Saeed bin Suroor||Godolphin|
About the Course
British horseracing can lay claim to plenty of blue-blooded connections, but none rival those of Ascot. The Berkshire racecourse’s roots go back 300 years to Queen Anne, who recognised the potential of a stretch of heath land while out riding just a few miles from Windsor Castle.
The royal link has endured ever since. Today, Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Royal Family attend the world-famous ‘Royal Ascot’ meeting each year, arriving in a horse drawn carriage. Royal Ascot, meanwhile, has earned iconic status as a centrepiece of the social calendar, when the world’s best thoroughbreds face fierce competition from the world’s most extravagant fashion designs.
Ascot, which underwent a £200 million redevelopment between 2004-6, also hosts the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes sponsored by Betfair in July, the most prestigious open-age Flat race staged in Britain.
It will also host the inaugural QIPCO British Champions Day in October which will be the richest raceday ever staged in Britain with over £3m in prize money and the climax to the QIPCO British Champions Series. Including the five category finales on QIPCO British Champions Day, Ascot stages no less than 13 of the 35 QIPCO British Champions Series races.
What sort of horses like Ascot? Horses that like right-handed courses. And what sort of people? People who like champagne and scones, apparently. During the five-day Royal Ascot meeting in 2010, 60,000 bottles of champagne and 40,000 scones were consumed. Lobsters, meanwhile, don’t like Royal Ascot - 1,500 of them were eaten over that same period.