Champion Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien has some concerns about his star galloper Order Of St George handling the soft ground in the Group 1 £400,000 Gold Cup (2 mile 4 furlong) at Royal Ascot today.
Order Of St George recorded his fifth win from ten starts when he resumed with a first up victory in the Listed £50,000 Seamus & Rosemary McGrath Memorial Saval Beg Stakes (1 mile, 6 furlongs) at Leopardstown in Ireland on June 3.
The combination of the four year old stepping up to the 2 mile and four furlongs for the first time on a soft track is a little bit of an unknown and O’Brien wouldn’t be surprised if he made hard work of it.
“Order Of St George handles a dig but going that far, you wouldn’t want it too soft,” O’Brien told the Sportinglife.
“He is a class horse and was just ready to run when he ran in Leopardstown and hopefully he will have progressed from then. He does handle an ease, though.”
Ryan Moore rides Order Of St George who has drawn barrier ten in the eighteen horse field and is the short priced favourite for the Gold Cup at $1.85 with Ladbrokes.com.au with the Willie Mullins trained Melbourne Cup runner up Max Dynamite his nearest rival in the betting at $8.50.
Flying Officer with Frankie Dettori in the saddle is the next in the market order at $10 just ahead of Mizzou at $11 and Clever Cookie at $12.
North Yorkshire trainer Peter Niven his giving his stayer Clever Cookie a good chance of knocking off the favourite over a suitable distance on soft ground that he can handle.
“He seems grand and we are ready to go, I think. My old Ascot hoodoo has struck again with the draw (stall 17), but other than that we’re very happy with him,” Niven said.
“He’ll handle the ground and it just brings staying into the equation, which suits us. He’s getting a bit older – like all of us – so it’s probably taken him a bit longer to get going this year. It’s a big day for him but we think he’ll be up for it.”
“He won’t mind the ground, he has come on for his run in the Sagaro Stakes here in April and I am pleased with the quality of his work. On the minus side, there is Order of St George and it is the most crowded Gold Cup in my lifetime, which means positioning and luck will come into play.”
Lucas Cumani is also expecting a bold performance from Mizzou who is also at home on a rain affected surface and is coming off a last start win in the Group 3 £60,000 Longines Sagaro Stakes (2 miles) at Ascot on April 27.
“He’s in with a chance,” said Cumani.
“He won’t mind the ground, he has come on for his run in the Sagaro Stakes here in April and I am pleased with the quality of his work. On the minus side, there is Order of St George and it is the most crowded Gold Cup in my lifetime, which means positioning and luck will come into play.
“He is drawn in stall one which could be a great plus and a help in getting a good position. Conversely, it could be a disadvantage if they all come round the outside of him. There are a lot of imponderables.”
Clever Cookie has drawn out wide at seventeen with P J McDonald in the saddle while Mizzou has secured the pole position with Andrea Atzeni to ride.