Kew Gardens, the 2018 St Leger winner, didn’t make it to Royal Ascot last season after two disappointing runs but trainer Aidan O’Brien hopes he gets there for the Gold Cup.
The five-year-old by Galileo proved he handled a softer surface when lowering the colours of Stradivarius in the 2m Long Distance Cup on his last start at the track.
All has not gone to plan with Kew Gardens, but the same can be said with most Flat horses this year. He ranges in price from 5/1 down to 7/2 for the Gold Cup on Thursday, 18 June.
“We were hoping to get a run into him at Leopardstown or Navan and it’s just all been a little bit of a mess for him,” O’Brien said of Kew Gardens. “We had him wound up very early this year to go to Dubai.
“The plan was to give him a little rest before coming back for Ascot. We have just probably messed him around a little bit and he just went a little bit quiet on us. He is slowly coming back and we’re hoping to get him to Ascot.”
Analysis: Kew Gardens a clear Ascot Gold Cup contender
Jamie Clark, Horsebetting.com Editor
It is 14/1 bar Stradivarius and Kew Gardens in the ante post betting on the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. Clearly, bookmakers believe it is a two-horse race.
Cross Counter and Dee Ex Bee had cracks at Stradivarius last season, but neither really landed a blow. There are two new potential challenges, though.
Martyn Meade’s grey Mastercraftsman colt Technician is three from four over trips further than 1m 4f. His best form is on a softer surface, however, after progressing to win the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp.
Four-year-old Dermot Weld trained filly Search For A Song would get maximum weight from the boys if going for the Gold Cup.
Those allowances won’t be anything like the 12lb she received from Kew Gardens in last year’s Irish St Leger, though.
There’s no prep run for either him or Stradivarius, so in every respect this Gold Cup is a level playing field.
O’Brien has won the race seven times since 2006. The Gold Cup has gone back to Ballydoyle half of the time in the last 14 years, then.
Plotting the downfall of British star stayer Stradivarius would be yet another miraculous training feat. Kew Gardens beat him on British Champions Day, so could do so again.