Ascot Gold Cup: Can Stradivarius make it four in a row?
Analysis of trends in the last 20 years
Stradivarius is looking to become just the second horse in Ascot Gold Cup history to win four races – and the first with the same jockey for all of them.
Ahead of Thursday’s big race, we have taken a look at the last 20 runnings to see if there are any patterns which could predict what will happen this year.
Favourites have form
The first major thing going for Stradivarius is that favourites do especially well in the Ascot Gold Cup.
Eleven of the last 16 races have been won by the favourite, including the first of Stradivarius’ three victories in 2018 when he started as joint-favourite.
Second favourite Trueshan is hotly tipped to give Stradivarius a run for his money, having come out on top when the two met on the same course back in October.
However, the second most-fancied horse has only taken home the top prize once in the last two decades, with the other four upsets coming from entrants who were priced as fourth favourite or lower.
Don’t be afraid to back an older horse
Stradivarius is looking to become only the fourth horse aged seven or older to win the Ascot Gold Cup since World War II.
While the middle part of the 20th century saw younger runners dominate, the fortunes of older horses have been improving in recent years. Between 1920 and 1975, four-year-olds accounted for 75.9% of winners – more than three-quarters – but since then their share of victories has dropped to just over a third at 35.6%.
Whether or not you’re backing Stradivarius to make it four in a row, there is more evidence that older horses have what it takes to win the Ascot Gold Cup.
Over the last 20 races, a higher proportion of six-year-olds have finished at least third than entrants of any other age, with seven-year-olds also managing to place third or better more reliably than five-year-olds.
Experience counts in the saddle
It also pays to have an experienced jockey on board and they rarely come more experienced than Stradivarius’ rider Frankie Dettori.
A win on Thursday would not only be the fourth victory for this pairing but also the Italian’s ninth Ascot Gold Cup triumph in a glittering career.
This would leave him just two wins shy of Lester Piggott’s record tally of 11, although Dettori is already older than Piggott was when he won his last major honour in Berkshire.
Regardless of age, a previous strong performance in this race has often been the key to victory. In 12 of the last 15 races, the winning jockey had previously finished third or better. Therefore if you are not swayed by the favourite then it seems sensible to consider a horse who is being ridden by someone with a good track record in this contest.
Is Stradivarius past his best?
Stradivarius’ crushing defeat by Trueshan last October is far from the only blemish on his recent record.
Between the ages of four and five, he won 10 of the 11 races he entered but has crossed the line first in fewer than half of his races since turning six. This includes two finishes outside the top three, which had not happened since he was a two-year-old.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication