Stradivarius bids to match Yeats feat in Ascot Gold Cup

Aidan O’Brien supplements Serpentine as John Gosden’s star bids for four-in-a-row

Stradivarius is bidding for a fourth-consecutive Ascot Gold Cup win. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty

Since the status of Yeats as the most successful Ascot Gold Cup horse of all time is under threat on Thursday it's perhaps no surprise Aidan O'Brien is mounting a rare challenge on the stayers crown.

A dozen years after Yeats pulled off what was reckoned to be an unmatchable four-in-a-row in the historic stamina test, Stradivarius is favourite to do the same.

Not only that but the John Gosden-trained star is chasing has five successive Royal Ascot victories having also landed the 2016 Queens Vase at the meeting.

Some may point to the possible impact of forecast thunderstorms on ground conditions as a negative but since last year’s 10-length romp on soft was Stradivarius’s most impressive win of all visually, it’s a difficult task to pick holes in the chance of history being equalled.


One thing is certain and that is how O’Brien is taking a novel tack to try and spoil the party.

An Epsom Derby winner hasn’t run in the Gold Cup for 51 years and even then Blakeney’s attempt appeared commercially quixotic.

Now the most commercial stallion operation of all has supplemented their 2020 'Blue Riband' hero Serpentine into the extreme stamina test.

Not only that but he is backed up by last year's Irish Derby winner Santiago as well as another evocatively named stable companion for the royal meeting, Amhran Na Bhfiann.

O’Brien’s sons Joseph and Donnacha respectively go to war too with a Melbourne Cup winner, Twilight Payment, and the progressive Emperor Of The Sun.

Throw in the hugely popular Princess Zoe - with Tony Mullins keeping everything crossed for that forecast rain to bucket down - and Stradivarius will have to overcome a strong Irish challenge.

With Subjectivist and Trueshan also in the mix, Stradivarius’s fourth and perhaps final Gold Cup could be his toughest.

Earlier the Oaks third, Divinely, a full-sister to Found, can show some characteristic family grit and make a successful quick return for O’Brien Snr in the Ribblesdale.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column