Order Of St George bounds clear in the Gold Cup at Royal AscotPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
St George puts O'Brien in seventh heaven at Ascot
Report: Royal Ascot, Thursday
Gold Cup In Honour of The Queen's 90th Birthday (Group 1) 2m4f, 4yo+
ORDER OF ST GEORGE delivered trainer Aidan O’Brien a seventh Gold Cup success, answering any stamina doubts in definitive fashion in a messy running of the prestigious contest.
Still on a high after registering his 50th Royal Ascot victory in the previous race with Even Song, O’Brien was celebrating again after the 10-11 favourite overcame a troubled passage in a stop-start race under Ryan Moore.
A post-war record field of 18 left the gates but Mille Et Mille and jockey Thierry Thulliez grabbed the attention by setting a searching pace throughout much of the marathon trip.
Thulliez applied the brakes on the tearaway front-runner down the back straight and on the approach to the final bend the majority of the field in behind were stacked up and short of room.
In command - once gaps came
At this point, Moore had a wall of horses in front of him but he angled out his mount and swinging for home the gaps came.
Once he had a clear run, Order Of St George charged up the home straight and was well on top at the line.
Sagaro Stakes winner Mizzou (10-1) finished strongly in second with Sheikhzayedroad (40-1) third and the enterprisingly ridden Mille Et Mille fourth at 33-1.
Order Of St George announced himself as a potential star stayer with an 11-length rout in last season’s Irish St Leger and much to the delight of his rider he handled the six-furlong step up in trip with aplomb.
'He's just class'
“He’s a very exciting horse,” said Moore. “He has lots of class and it was a very messy race with 18 runners in there. He's just a class animal.”
O'Brien, who won four Gold Cups in a row with the mighty Yeats, said: “It was a little bit messy and rough and because he had never run over the trip before, Ryan had to put him to sleep. He's a horse that loves racing.”
William Hill rate Order Of St George a 5-2 chance to successfully defend his Gold Cup crown in 2017, while in the short term O’Brien mentioned a return for the Irish St Leger and possibly the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe later in the year.
Andrea Atzeni, rider of runner-up Mizzou, said: “He ran a blinder. He jumped well, got a nice enough position, and when we hit the rising ground he picked up well, but Ryan Moore on my outside was picking up just a little better than me. He's tough and consistent and he goes on any ground. We just bumped into one.”
David Simcock was equally thrilled with Sheikhzayedroad in third. He said: “He’s a very brave, game horse, very honest and a lot of fun. He makes a lot of money too. I think the owner fancies Australia and remember he's not a slow horse, although Order Of St George made him look quite slow today.”