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July 19, 2024
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Krypios Seeks a Second Gold Cup Crown


Trainer Aidan O’Brien’s hopes of a record-extending ninth Gold Cup (G1) are pinned on Kyprios , who bids June 20 to become the first horse since Kayf Tara to win nonconsecutive editions of the race.

The five horses who have attempted to regain the Gold Cup since Kayf Tara’s success in 2000 have failed, with Stradivarius  and Subjectivist  faring best when third in 2022 and last year, respectively. O’Brien’s Order of St George  was only fourth in 2018.

O’Brien has a 32% strike rate in the Royal Ascot feature, with Yeats his only multiple winner when striking for four years in a row between 2006 and 2009.

Kyprios landed four consecutive top-staying events in 2022 but a setback meant he only ran twice last year, finishing second in the Irish St. Leger (G1) and British Champions Long Distance Cup (G2).

This season he has been successful in listed and group 3 company and this is his acid test as to whether he retains all his ability against group 1 opposition. The betting suggests he will be well up to the task.

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O’Brien said: “Everything has gone according to plan with Kyprios. He’s hit every marker and his two runs this season have been lovely and have set us up nicely for this. Ryan (Moore) was very happy with him in the Saval Beg.

“He seems to be in the same sort of place as he was two years ago. We’re looking forward to it.”

Kyprios provided Moore with his third Gold Cup win when beating Mojo Star  by half a length two years ago, and the jockey believes the prolific stayer—with a top-quality 10-for-14 record—sets the standard.

Moore said in his Betfair blog: “You can make a case for several of these, but my horse is still the one to beat. His 2022 form sets him apart from these and hopefully he is ready to return to his group 1-winning best after winning his warm-up races at Navan and Leopardstown. We’re very happy with him coming into this.”

Gregory  is aiming to emulate former star stablemate Stradivarius by winning the Queen’s Vase (G2) and Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in back-to-back years.

Wathnan Racing’s colt is winless in three starts since last year’s meeting and needs to take a step forward from his reappearance third in the Yorkshire Cup Stakes (G2) last month.

Gregory (Frankie Dettori) win the Queen's Vase<br>
Ascot 21.6.23 Pic: Edward Whitaker
Photo: Edward Whitaker/Racing Post

Gregory wins the 2023 Queen’s Vase at Ascot Racecourse

That was a promising effort, though, as he rallied well in the closing stages of the 1 3/4-mile contest, giving hope of him staying this 2 1/2-mile trip under James Doyle.

Joint trainer Thady Gosden said: “Gregory ran a very pleasing prep race for this when third in the Yorkshire Cup. He finished his race off well that day and shapes as if he’ll get further.”

The Gosdens saddle three runners and their team also includes Trawlerman , the winner of the Ebor Handicap in 2022 and the Long Distance Cup last year.

William Buick’s mount is having his first start since finishing third in the Dubai Gold Cup (G2T) at Meydan Racecourse in March, while the Robert Havlin-ridden Sweet William  arrives on the back of a win over the reopposing Caius Chorister  in the Henry II Stakes (G3) at Sandown last month.

Gosden added: “Sweet William has progressed since his Sandown win and, while the extra half-mile is uncharted territory, he has always shaped as a proper stayer.

“We know Trawlerman likes the track and he ran a great comeback when third in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan in March from a wide draw. He’s having his first run since then but shows relentless enthusiasm in his training and the extra half-mile should within his compass.”

Whistlejacket Lines Up as Strong Favorite in Norfolk

The Norfolk Stakes (G2) was responsible for throwing up one of the biggest upsets in Royal Ascot history last year, when 150-1 outsider Valiant Force  struck, and there was further evidence of how much of a minefield the juvenile races can be June 18 when Rashabar  landed the Coventry Stakes (G2) at 80-1.

However, the market isn’t pointing to there being an upset this year because Whistlejacket  has been all the rage in the ante-post market and now looks set to line up a red-hot favorite.

Whistlejacket appears to be the Ballydoyle banker for the week and Aidan O’Brien has won the Norfolk three times, with Johannesburg in 2001, Waterloo Bridge  in 2015, and Sioux Nation  seven years ago. Whistlejacket will be his shortest-priced runner since that last win.

The son of No Nay Never  was beaten by Cowardofthecounty on his debut and that rival was a well-held seventh in the Coventry, but it’s probably harsh to judge Whistlejacket on that as he took a big step forward when winning at the Curragh second time.

That win was good enough for a Racing Post Rating of 101, which puts him 5 pounds clear of his nearest rival in this line-up, and he must be highly thought of as he is his stable’s sole runner.

Saturday Flirt - MSW - R01 - KEE - 042624
Photo: Coady  Media

Saturday Flirt breaks her maiden at Keeneland

The Norfolk is all about speed and it would reason that American-trained runners should do well. However, 12 United States-based horses have contested the race, 11 trained by Wesley Ward and one by George Weaver, for just two winners. So their strike rate is 17%.

Saturday Flirt  represents the Ward stable this time and comes here after an easy victory on her debut in a maiden at Keeneland. Her style of victory was unlike many others from the yard as Ward’s runners often jump and go, but the Mendelssohn   filly came from the rear to assert late.

Those tactics usually work well on the straight course at Ascot so it will be fascinating to see whether U.S. jockey Joel Rosario sticks with the waiting game or reverts to type and blasts from the front.

“Wesley (Ward) won this race with a filly with Shang Shang Shang, so he knows what it takes,” said Alex Cole, racing manager to Jim and Fitri Hay, the owners of Saturday Flirt. “What I liked about this filly was that when she won at Keeneland she did so coming off the pace rather than doing it all from the front. She’s traveled over well, she’s in great form and we’re hoping for a good run in a tough race.”

The Norfolk is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series event, granting the winner an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1T) in November at Del Mar.



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