Royal Ascot is in full flow, and as is the case every year, racing fans are counting down the minutes to the meeting’s highlight, the Ascot Gold Cup. Run over a trip of 2 miles 4 furlongs, the Gold Cup is the biggest race of the season for the flat stayers and has regularly provided some of the most memorable moments at the Royal meeting.
From the brilliant Yeats winning four races in a row, to The Queen’s mare, Enable, finally providing Her Majesty with a victory in her own race, the Ascot Gold Cup has had many dramatic stories to tell in recent years.
This year’s story is likely to involve the superstar filly, Emily Dickinson, as Aidan O’Brien’s youngster takes on the boys in the Thursday highlight.
Can she better the boys?
A four-year-old rarely tackles a trip like that of the Gold Cup for the first time at Royal Ascot, and it is even rarer that that four-year-old is a filly. At Royal Ascot 2023 that is exactly what will happen when 11/2 chance, Emily Dickinson, lines up in the Group I contest.
Trained by last year’s winning trainer, Aidan O’Brien, Emily Dickinson has yet to record a victory at the highest level in her career thus far, but she does have some fine-placed form against some of the top horses, and she seems to be progressing nicely with age.
The daughter of Irish Oaks winner Chicquita has also shown improvement as she has stepped up in trip, with stamina being one of her biggest attributes. One thing that might be against her in the Gold Cup is the predicted good ground. She has put in the best performances of her career on a softer surface, so any rain that falls will be greatly welcomed by her connections.
One horse in the race that has proven his ability to stay the lung-bursting distance of the Gold Cup is current 100/30 favourite, Coltrane. A course and distance winner in the Ascot Stakes twelve months ago, Andrew Balding’s star could hardly have been more impressive in winning the Sagaro Stakes this season, and he could take some beating if at his best.
Like Emily Dickinson, Eldar Eldarov is another four-year-old that continues to improve. A winner of four of his seven starts to date, the 7/2 Gold Cup second favourite was 3 lengths ahead of Emily Dickinson in last year’s St Leger, but there is no guarantee that he will confirm that form given that he is unproven at a trip of 2 miles or more.
Courage Mon Ami
The big unknown of the 2023 Gold Cup is the inexperienced Courage Mon Ami. Three from three on the track to date, John Gosden’s youngster may not have the experience of others, but he obviously possesses a huge amount of ability and he has bags of potential as a stayer.
The fact that Emily Dickinson will receive weight from all of her rivals in the Gold Cup must give her a chance. Courage Mon Ami is an interesting runner given his inexperience, but Emily Dickinson has the potential to be a top-class stayer and could take some beating if at her best, particularly if the ground turns soft.