There was little doubt that one of the stars of last season was Stradivarius, as he went on to land the stayers million. This meant the son of Sea the Stars picked up the big bonus for connections and headed into this season looking to achieve the same feat. This is a huge ask considering the division certainly looks more competitive this year and he had such a hard year, so could he do it again?
Stradivarius returned again in the Yorkshire Cup against a field of horses who had already made their appearance, so had a fitness advantage over him. This saw him steadily drift and eventually going off at a shade of odds on for the race. However, he looked as good as ever in staying on powerfully before outbattling Southern France in the last furlong.
This now sets him up to defend his crown in the Ascot Gold Cup. He can be supported at a general 13/8 for the race, which means he is set to be one of the shortest priced horses across the week. He is already proving a very popular selection amongst punters using the current bookmaker promo codes that are on offer.
His trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori believe he could be an even better horse this season, which sends an ominous warning to his challengers. So who are the two key horses who can challenge him at the upcoming Ascot showpiece?
The Charlie Appleby trained four year old is without a doubt the biggest threat to the favourite and can be supported at 9/2 for the Gold Cup at present. He continues to improve with each start and has also only been beaten once by a head in his last five starts. His two most recent victories coming in the Melbourne Cup and Dubai Gold Cup. On both occasions he has stayed on very powerfully, looking tailormade for a tilt at the Ascot Gold Cup. If he can continue this progression then he is going to rate a major danger to ending the winning run of the favourite.
Globetrotting specialist! Cross Counter wins the Dubai Gold Cup! #DWC19 #DubaiWorldCup pic.twitter.com/91lXeeU6XS
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) March 30, 2019
Dee Ex Bee
Third in the betting at a general 6/1 is the Mark Johnston trained four year old, De Ex Bee. Following a disappointing end to last season, he appears to have returned better than ever. He is a very class horse and was beaten only 1 ½ lengths in last season’s Investec Derby. De Ex Bee rates a very exciting horse in the division and returned by winning the Longines Sagaro Stakes at Ascot by just over three lengths. This shows he handles the track well ahead of the Gold Cup. He then followed impressively by landing a big gamble in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown, which now sets him up for a big effort next month. He rates a strong each way contender against the short favourite.
He’s tough! Dee Ex Bee remains unbeaten this season in the @TeamMatchbook Henry II Stakes for @Johnston_Racing and @SilvDSousa at @Sandownpark
Results ? https://t.co/glajGV55GR pic.twitter.com/FR5NjBZ4g1
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) May 23, 2019