When it comes to races for the stayers, it doesn't get more prestigious than the Ascot Gold Cup. At 2 miles and 4 furlongs, it is one of the toughest tests of endurance in the flat racing calendar. The first leg of the Triple Crown, this race is followed by the Goodwood Cup (2 miles) and the Doncaster Cup (2 miles and 2 furlongs).
Though there's plenty of hotly debated racing to come between now and the Gold Cup in June, there's plenty of chat about which horse is likely to take the title this year. Of course, there are a couple of stand-out favourites, but there's plenty of value to be found for the places this year too.
Keep reading for our take on who's in with a chance.
Finding the Best Value
Whether you're considering a long shot or a bet on one of the favourites, it's a good idea to shop around for the best value before placing your bets. Bookmakers at the course will vary on the day and there may be some value to be found there, but looking online can be a good idea if you're placing ante-post bets.
Currently, Racing TV has compiled a list of free bets for Ascot that can be used on all races during the meeting, including the Gold Cup. They independently review all of the sites that they recommend, providing an impartial opinion on key criteria such as the best overall service.
Bearing this in mind, it's onto the horse with one of the greatest track records these staying races have ever seen.
Anyone who defiantly opposes Stradivarius this year is misguided. The 7-year-old, owned by Bjorn Nielsen and trained by John Gosden, has done nothing but impress since he got those ten furlongs he so desperately needed at Beverley in the first race of his three-year-old season. He won that race readily, with Election Day (no poor horse) trailing by six lengths in second.
With each step up in trip, Stradivarius has proved time and time again that he’s a formidable stayer with almost unmatched class.
Since his first race at Ascot in the Queen's Vase, he's pretty much dominated at this course. Not only that but he's landed four Goodwood Cups, three Gold Cups and he's the first and last horse since Double Trigger in 1995 to win all three of the British Stayer's Triple Crown in one year (2019).
Though he was well beaten last year on what could have been his fourth Gold Cup win, he's since had some impressive results including a couple of wins at Doncaster and York on favourable ground.
It will be interesting to see how he fares this year, particularly owing to the total domination from Subjectivist last year, who, it has recently been announced, won't be competing in the race this year.
Trueshan – owned by the Singula Partnership and trained by Alan King – is going to prove the biggest contender to Stradivarius, having beaten him on his most recent two starts at both Ascot and Longchamp last year.
He's become one of the top stayers around, particularly over last season and, at 5 years old, he has youth on his side.
Just like so many other stayers, his two-year-old season was unremarkable. However, over longer distances as a three-year-old, he proved almost unbeatable, winning 4 out of his 5 starts.
The other big advantage that Trueshan has is that he seems to act on moist ground, having won on everything from good to very soft. His win over 2miles 4 furlongs at Longchamp under James Doyle was hugely impressive, seeing off Stradivarius by 4 and a half lengths.
He's hard to oppose for the Gold Cup this year; it might only be very hard ground that could stop him.