Ascot Gold Cup punters were afforded a timely reminder of the folly of believing the hyperbole that can often accompany a race featuring two superstars when Blue Point landed the King’s Stand on day one of Royal Ascot 2018.
It had been hyped up as duel between defending champion Lady Aurelia and Battaash, both of whom were rated at least 7lbs higher than any other horse in the contest and everyone fell for it, this site included.
On the day, the former never looked threatening, while the latter was outstayed inside the final furlong by the eventual victor, who returned a 6/1 third favourite.
The Ascot Gold Cup is being hyped as an Order Of St George v Stradivarius showdown
Much of the discussion in the build-up to Thursday’s main event has centered around 7/4 favourite Order Of St George and whether he can beat Stradivarius, the 2/1 second in the betting.
In the process the race is being framed as a classic battle between an ageing champion (six-year-old OOSG won the race in 2016 and was a short-head second last term) and the up and coming star who could have the ability to depose him after running him close in a race last October (below).
Vazirabad could be the horse to rubbish the idea that the Ascot Gold Cup is a two-horse race
If there’s one to make a mockery of the reductive way in which the race has been hyped, at 9/2, the Aga Khan’s gelding could be it.
He hasn’t gone unnoticed by the layers, but neither has his chance been trumpeted by the pundits.
Unlike Stradivarius, Vazirabad is a Group 1 winner over the Gold Cup’s 2m4f trip, while he scored at Group 2 level on his seasonal return, which cannot be said about Order Of St George.
The second in that victory has already scored at listed level since, giving the form a nice look and Alain Royer-Dupre’s six-year-old is sure to strip fitter for the outing.
He’s also bested fellow contestants Torcedor (who split the two market leaders here in the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day 2017) and Sheikhzayedroad in past encounters.
At close to an each-way bet to nothing, it’s worth chancing that the much-hyped pre-race showdown between Order Of St George and his John-Gosden-trained rival proves a side show in the Ascot Gold Cup.