The Gold Cup is perhaps the most respected and popular race run each year at Royal Ascot and certainly the most prestigious race on the calendar for ‘stayers’.

The feature race on Day Three of Royal Ascot, this is also the longest race on the stayers’ calendar, attracting the very cream of the crop and creating a fascinating spectacle for those who attend what is unofficially known as Ladies’ Day.

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Key information

The Gold Cup is the most prestigious and the longest event on the annual stayers’ calendar. At a distance of 2 miles, 4 furlongs, great stamina is required of horses to achieve victory here.

This Grade One race attracts some of the very best horses in category and is therefore one of the highlights of the entire Royal Ascot week. It is open to horses aged from four years old upwards (although originally three-year-olds were allowed to enter) and is run on the right-handed flat course at Ascot.

The Gold Cup is perhaps the most respected and popular race run each year at Royal Ascot and certainly the most prestigious race on the calendar for ‘stayers’.

The prize purse as of 2015 stood at a desirable £375,000, with winning team Trip to Paris and Graham Lee taking a share of £212,663.

Royal Ascot Gold Cup riders
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The history of the Gold Cup

The inaugural Gold Cup was run at Ascot way back in 1807, with the team behind winning horse Master Jackey awarded 100 guineas in prize money.

Open to horses aged three or above, this first race was presided over by the royal couple, King George III and his wife Queen Charlotte.

The race has attracted strong royal following throughout its history, from the very first race to the 2013 victory of Estimate. Estimate was the first Gold Cup winner owned by Queen Elizabeth II and as such the crowd went absolutely wild as he romped to victory.

Together with the Goodwood Cup and the Doncaster Cup, the Gold Cup makes up part of the Stayers’ Triple Crown. It is one of only three Royal Ascot ‘perpetual trophies’, meaning that the winning team are able to keep the trophy rather than return it the following year.

Race records

Lester Piggott defies belief with his Gold Cup record, which includes a staggering eleven wins throughout his career.

He bagged three consecutive wins with Sagaro from 1975–77 and twice earned two consecutive wins on Ardross (1981–82), and Zarathustra and Gladness in 1957 and 1958, respectively.

Royal Ascot Gold Cup fence

His other winners were Pandofell in 1961, Twilight Alley in 1963, Fighting Charlie in 1965 and Le Moss in 1979.

The most successful team for the Gold Cup is the horse, trainer, owner combination of Yeats, Aidan O’Brien and Sue Magnier, who won for four consecutive years from 2006-09. Yeats was ridden by Kieren Fallon in 2006, Michael Kinane in 2007 and Johnny Murtagh in 2008 and 2009.

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Aidan O’Brien would later train two further winners, Fame and Glory (2011) and Leading Light (2014), making him the race’s most successful trainer overall.

The last horse to win all three races in the Stayer’s Triple Crown in the same year was Double Trigger, who took down all three in 1995.

The shining light in the stayers’ calendar, the Gold Cup is one of the most exciting races a spectator can witness, showcasing the very best horses and jockeys and making legends of its winners.