Royal Ascot: Order can be restored in Gold Cup, says O'Brien

AIDAN O'Brien is confident Order Of St George is at the top of his game ahead of his bid to claim a second Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

Aidan O'Brien.

The six-year-old was a dominant winner of the two-and-a-half-mile showpiece in 2016 and was beaten just a short head by Big Orange in a pulsating climax to last year’s renewal.

O’Brien has followed a tried and tested route with his charge this spring, saddling him to win both the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan and the Saval Beg at Leopardstown – the same two races he contested last year.

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The Ballydoyle handler, who is bidding for a record eighth Gold Cup victory, said: “Everything has gone well with him since his last run at Navan. We are as happy with him going into the Gold Cup as we have been with him in any of the other years he has gone there.”

The horse widely regarded as Order Of St George’s biggest threat is the four-year-old Stradivarius.

John Gosden’s colt won the Queen’s Vase at last year’s Royal meeting and went on to lift the Goodwood Cup later in the summer.

Yet Torcedor, fifth in last year’s Gold Cup and a runaway winner of the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot earlier this year, would win the popularity stakes.

Trainer Jessica Harrington has won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase – but is still seeking a first Royal Ascot success.

Harrington said: “I first went to Royal Ascot when I was about 17. It’s a great meeting. It would be lovely to have a winner there – if you are a trainer you want to win at Ascot, like at Cheltenham or Punchestown. They are the ones that matter.

“Torcedor is in great form. I think he’s a better horse than this time last year. He’s run very well every time he’s been to Ascot.”