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Order Of St George fancied to repeat his Gold Cup success at Royal Ascot

20/06/2017

The Gold Cup is the feature of Thursday's (22 June) Royal Ascot simulcast excitements when Order Of St George will be a popular choice to repeat last year's victory in this historic test over a marathon 3991m.
 
Not much had gone right for him in last year's race with nine horses in front when he turned into the home straight, and, with stamina doubts, some believed that was about as close as he would finish.
 
However once Ryan Moore's mount saw daylight he simply powered past his opposition in a style that suggested he could dominate this division of European racing for years.

He was immediately branded as a “stayer” though that one-dimensional label instantly disappeared after only Found and Highland Reel finished ahead of him in Europe's premier 2400m contest - the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly last October.
 
His smooth victory in the Listed Saval Beg Stakes (2800m) at Leopardstown last month suggested he is spot on whilst master trainer Aidan O'Brien - who prefers his horses to do the talking - simply reports that the five-year-old entire is “a horse who loves racing.”
 
Rival supporters remain hopeful, if realistic. David Simcock trains popular eight-year-old Sheikhzayedroad who finished third at long odds last year. “There are some who can give Order Of St George a race and we've got a great old soldier who we know stays well and goes on any ground. But it'll be difficult to trouble Order Of St George,” he said.
 
Michael Bell trains Big Orange and he indicated that last December's dismal show when 11th in the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) can be easily forgotten: “He'd had some hard races travelling around the world last year and it got to him eventually,” he revealed.

Referring to Big Orange's stylish front-running 2017 comeback success under Frankie Dettori in the G3 Henry II Stakes (3245m) at Sandown Park, Bell said: “That was a real confidence booster and teed him up for a good year. We've been praying for a nice steamy Ascot as he loves fast ground.”

It looks as though Bell’s ground wishes have been granted with current hot weather set to continue at least in the short-term.
 
There is also some confidence behind Sweet Selection, a G3 Ascot winner on last month's 2017 return in the Sagaro Stakes (3190m). “She quickened like she's never quickened before,” enthused trainer Hughie Morrison of that victory. The progresssive five-year-old mare will be ridden by red-hot Silvestre de Sousa who rode five winners from six rides at Sandown Park last Saturday and continues to dominate the 2017 UK jockeys' championship.

Meanwhile Sir Michael Stoute has been sending out Royal Ascot winners since 1977 and the veteran maestro has various chances of adding to his near-record number of 75 winners at Britain's greatest race meeting.

That includes Mori who has the sort of unexposed profile from which Stoute built much of his reputation. Regally-bred, by the great Frankel out of the six-time G1-winner Midday, she handled the undulations of Goodwood wonderfully well on her third and latest start to win the Listed Height Of Fashion Stakes (1979m) and runs in the G2 Ribblesdale Stakes (2392m) - race three on the simulcast programme - for three-year-old  fillies.
 
Regular rider Ryan Moore is likely to be committed to O'Brien's Alluringly with Pat Smullen expected to take over on Mori. That should certainly not be seen as a negative and there appears to be plenty of Newmarket confidence behind Mori's Royal Ascot winning chance.

 

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