A guide to the prestigious Ascot Gold Cup horse race, the feature race of the Royal Ascot Meeting. The guide provides a detailed overview of the race including its history, venue, and interesting facts.
The Gold Cup
The Gold Cup is a Group 1 flat horse race for four-year-olds and above run over a distance of two miles four furlongs at Ascot during the royal meeting in June. The race is the most prestigious race for staying Flat horses in Europe and is traditionally held on the third day – known as Ladies’ Day – at Royal Ascot. The Queen traditionally presents the Gold Cup. The trophy is made every year and presented to the winning owners to keep.
The 2010 race will be run on Thursday, June 17.
Follow the Racing Post’s horse racing news coverage of the race to find out who this year’s winner will be.
Ascot Gold Cup History
The Gold Cup was first to run in 1807 when the race was run over two miles and was open to three-year-olds and above. In 1808 the race distance was changed to two miles four furlongs.
For many years the race was among the most prestigious races in the Flat calendar and was one of the main objectives of horses who had won the Derby. The last Derby winner to win the Gold Cup was Ocean Swell, while the last Derby winner to run in the Gold Cup was Blakeney, who finished second in 1970.
During the First World War, the Gold Cup did not take place in 1915 and 1916 and was held at Newmarket in 1917 and 1918. The race was cancelled again in 1940 following the outbreak of the Second World War and took place at Newmarket from 1941 to 1944.
Ascot is one of the world’s leading racecourses and is most famous as the home of the five-day Royal Ascot meeting held each June. Founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, Ascot continues to receive royal patronage and plays host to some of the biggest Flat races, including the Gold Cup, Queen Anne Stakes, Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Golden Jubilee Stakes (all at the royal meeting), King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Ascot racecourse stages jump racing during the winter months, with the main events being the Long Walk Hurdle in December, the Victor Chandler Chase in January, and the Ascot Chase in February (all Grade 1 races).
Gold Cup Facts
- Bachelor’s Button’s defeat of Pretty Polly in the 1906 race ranks as one of the greatest upsets in the race. The five-year-old Pretty Polly, who had won 22 of her 23 starts including the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks, and St Leger at the age of three, started at odds of 4-11 but suffered from a wart on her belly and did not enjoy the sweltering heat. In the race, the mare was outstayed by Bachelor’s Button.
- The 1964 race was abandoned due to waterlogging.
- Rock Roi was first past the post in the 1971 and 1972 races, but was disqualified both times; for testing positive for bute in 1971 and for causing interference the following year.
- Royal Gait was first past the post in 1988 but was controversially disqualified by the stewards for causing interference and placed last, with Sadeem promoted to first place. Royal Gait subsequently won the Champion Hurdle in 1992.
- Indian Queen, the 1991 winner, was pregnant when she won the race, having been mated with the stallion Night Shift earlier in the year. She is the last filly or mare to win the race.
- The 2005 race was held at York during the redevelopment of the Ascot grandstand.
- Ascot Gold Cup on Wikipedia – An overview of the race as well as a complete list of historical winners.
- Official Ascot Racecourse Site – Offers a wide variety of information on the course and its fixtures.
- Ascot Gold Cup on Godolphin – a comprehensive article on the race by Godolphin racing.
- Gold Cup Winners – thoroughbred heritage, has a complete list of past winners and their pedigree.
- UK Bloodstock News – The Racing Post covers all thoroughbred and bloodstock news.
- The Epsom Derby – visit my other Wikinut guide to the famous Derby race.