6 June 2022
By Roger Kennedy
Aidan O’Brien has been the most successful horse trainer in the history of the Ascot Gold Cup. The Irishman has earned seven victories at the prestigious event over the course of his career. Four of his titles came from one outstanding competitor, Yeats, who won the race in four successive years.
Fame and Glory, Leading Light and Order of St George maintained the winning formula, but O’Brien has endured six years without the crown, the longest spell since his breakthrough in 2006. He has a chance to end the drought in the 2022 race with his horse Kyprios. If you want to bet on Royal Ascot, backing O’Brien’s charge to deliver in the signature event of the week could be the most solid option of the festival.
There will be challengers for the crown as Alan King’s Trueshan, who won the Long Distance Cup as Ascot Racecourse in October, will be part of the field. He is the leading contender, although Kyprios does have impressive form in the early months of the flat racing season. The Irish thoroughbred was put forward by O’Brien for the Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield in May 2021, but he put forward an underwhelming effort to place down in sixth and give his trainer food for thought about his racing future.
Kyprios wins the Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes at Leopardstown!
An impressive display full of promise for Aidan O’Brien with Ryan Moore in the saddle 🏇@Ballydoyle @LeopardstownRC pic.twitter.com/6zft90jNUV
— Horse Racing Ireland (@HRIRacing) May 13, 2022
Kyprios did not race again in 2021 and when he returned for the 2022 campaign, he was redeployed over one mile and six furlongs rather than the one mile and three that he had raced in the prior term. The Irish thoroughbred was an outsider at 5/1 in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan Racecourse behind Search for a Song in the minds of the bookmakers. However, he was outstanding on the day to defy expectations as Ryan Moore in the saddle ushered him to a dominant victory over the race favourite.
As a result of the quality of Kyprios’ display, he was named the odds-on favourite for the Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes. The Irish thoroughbred was nothing short of sensational in the race as he followed up his strong performance by crushing the rest of the field, finishing 14 lengths ahead of his nearest rival. He has the momentum to take into his first race at Ascot, but there will be a challenge to upset Trueshan and even the old stager Stradivarius, who will be looking for one last hurrah.
Trueshan is in excellent form ahead of the contest, having won his first race of the season without issue at Nottingham. He is rightly the favourite for the Gold Cup and King will ensure that he has his horse well prepared for a duel against O’Brien and Kyprios. Stradivarius was not the imperious horse that he was once was after suffering a defeat in the Gold Cup last season to Subjectivist along with losses to Trueshan at Longchamp and Ascot in the latter stages of the term. However, John and Thady Gosden’s charge proved that he still has something left in the tank with a victory in the Yorkshire Cup.
It promises to be a thrilling race that O’Brien will be desperate to win to end his drought in Royal Ascot’s signature event.