Royal Ascot Gold Cup Runners: Stradivarius the one to beat

Stradivarius is a warm favourite to land a third Gold Cup crown.
Stradivarius is a warm favourite to land a third Gold Cup crown.

We take an in-depth look at the eight runners set to line up in the Ascot Gold Cup at 15:35 on Thursday afternoon, in which Stradivarius bids for a third win in a row in the Royal Ascot showpiece...

1. Cross Counter (James Doyle/Charlie Appleby)

A spectacular winner of the 2018 Melbourne Cup, Cross Counter was unable to land a significant blow in the 2019 Gold Cup, as he could only finish fourth in the staying feature. Well beaten on his last start in Saudi Arabia in February, the five-year-old is much better than that, so while he has form to turn around with Stradivarius from last year's renewal, he is a class act on his day and has to be respected for Charlie Appleby.

2. Mekong (Jim Crowley/Jamie Osborne)

Last seen finishing a surprise second in the aforementioned Riyadh handicap event in Saudi Arabia in February, Mekong will venture into Group 1 company for the first time in his career. A creditable fourth behind Kew Gardens and Stradivarius in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot on British Champions Day, the five-year-old is one that will relish the soft conditions at the Berkshire venue, as he has winning form in heavy ground.

3. Prince Of Arran (Andrea Atzeni/Charlie Fellowes)

A real globe-trotting stayer, who like the two aforementioned runners featured in the Riyadh Handicap four months ago, and he was another to finish ahead of Cross Counter, as Prince Of Arran bagged fourth spot in the valuable prize. With only three wins in 32 outings on turf, the Charlie Fellowes-trained seven-year-old has often played a supporting role in decent races, and having been well beat in the Sagaro Stakes at Newcastle, it's hard to fancy him here.

4. Stradivarius (Frankie Dettori/John Gosden)

A perfect five from five over trips of two miles or more, Stradivarius will head into the 2020 Gold Cup as the one to beat, as he aims to bag a third win on the bounce for John Gosden and Stradivarius. A sparkling winning streak came to an end last season in the Long Distance Cup as he was beaten by Kew Gardens, but that contender won't take his chance here, and he should strip fitter for an outing over an inadequate of one mile, four furlongs in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket earlier this month. Sets the standard.

5. Withhold (Jason Watson/Roger Charlton)

This 2017 Cesarewitch and 2018 Northumberland Plate winner has shown that he can dominate in the handicap sphere, but a step into top-class company could see Withhold struggle. Roger Charlton's raider was well beaten in the Long Distance Cup at the end of last season, while he showed no real positive signs when down the field in the Sagaro Stakes in his comeback run. Tough ask.

6. Moonlight Spirit (William Buick/Charlie Appleby)

A lightly-raced four-year-old who showed he relishes a stamina test when finishing fourth in the 2019 Queen's Vase Stakes at Royal Ascot. A Group 3 win at Longchamp after the royal meeting showed that he was still on the upgrade, and while he will need to produce a career best to feature here, he is one of the unknown quantities in the field.

7. Nayef Road (Ryan Moore/Mark Johnston)

A busy three-year-old campaign saw Nayef Road put up some decent staying performances, and he could be another surprise package as a four-year-old. Third in the Queen's Vase here last year, Mark Johnston's charge then went on to win the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. He kicked off this season with a superb win in the Sagaro Stakes, which shows stamina could be his forte, and he could well improve further for another step up in trip. Interesting.

8. Technician (Oisin Murphy/Martyn Meade)

No match for Nayef Road in the Gordon Stakes last season, Technician then disappointed in the St Leger at Doncaster, but he stormed back into the limelight when landing a brace of Group events at Longchamp. He sparkled in heavy conditions when winning the Prix Royal-Oak on his last outing, and a repeat of that Group 1-winning performance in testing conditions again should see him on the vicinity.

Ascot Gold Cup

£20 Risk Free First Bet Money Back In Cash

New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is €/£20. T&Cs apply. 18+ begambleaware.org
Bet £10 Get £40 in Free Bets
New customers using promo code C40 only. 1x per customer. Min £10/€10 bet. Min odds 1/2 (1.5). Free bets paid as 2x £15/€15 (expires after 30 days). Max £10 Bonus. 35x wagering requirement. Max redeemable amount £25. Casino bonus expires 72 hours from issue. Eligibility rules, free-bet rules, game, location, payment-method, currency restrictions, stake contributions and terms and conditions apply. 18+ begambleaware.org.
Welcome Offer
#ad Open Account Offer. Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. The bonus code ‘100BET365’ can be used during registration, but does not change the offer amount in any way. 18+ begambleaware.org.
Bet £10 Get £30 + 60 Free Spins
New UK & NI customers only. Promo code SPORTS60. Deposit and place first sports bet of £10+ in one transaction, at odds of Evens (2.0)+, settled within 60 days. First bet must be on Sports. £30 in Free Bets credited within 48 hours of bet settlement. 7-day expiry. Payment restrictions apply. SMS validation may be required. Max 60 Free Spins on Justice League Comics. 7-day expiry.  Full T&Cs apply. 18+ begambleaware.org
Bet £5 Get £20 In Free Bets
Min £5 bet on the SBK. Rewards valid for 7 days. Free bets must be placed at min odds of 1.5. Exchange free bet limited to certain markets. Payment restrictions apply. T&Cs apply. 18+ begambleaware.org
Bet £10 & Get £30 Free Bets + £10 Casino Bonus
Minimum deposit of £10 using deposit code 30F - A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £10 placed on any sports market - Minimum odds of 1/2 (1.5) - Free bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement and expire after 7 days - Free bet stakes not included in returns - Casino Bonus must be claimed within 7 days • To withdraw bonus/related wins, wager bonus amount x40 within 14 days • Wagering req. vary by game • Withdrawal restrictions and Full T&C’s apply. 18+ begambleaware.org
Bet £10 Get £40 In Bonuses
18+ new customers only. Deposit, opt-in and place a £10 qualifying bet at odds of 2.00 or greater within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive 3x £10 Sports Free Bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00 or greater. Plus, a £10 Game Show Bonus, selected games, wager 40x to withdraw a max of £250. Bonuses expire in 7 days. T&Cs Apply, see below. Please Gamble Responsibly. 18+ begambleaware.org
£25 Bet Bundle
UK Customers (Excluding NI) only. Cash stakes only. Min £10 stake required for initial £5 free bet. Min odds ½. Max £25 in free bets. Subsequent free bets equal 50% average of each 3 qualifying bets. 13 bets required to receive full £25 free bet. Qualifying bet must be placed within 30 days of opening account. Cashed out bets will not qualify towards average stake. One offer per customer, household or IP address. Free bet expires after 7 days. T&Cs apply