Gold Cup (Group 1)
THE Gold Cup was once again deprived of Trueshan, for whom the rain again failed to materialise, and a slow pace led to something of a sprint finish, which is hardly in keeping for a two-and-a-half-mile contest, but class came to the fore.
Aidan O’Brien’s Kyprios quickened best under Ryan Moore to get the better of Derby and St Leger runner-up Mojo Star (Richard Hannon/Rossa Ryan), with a luckless Stradivarius (John and Thady Gosden/Frankie Dettori) third after meeting traffic problems on the home turn.
The winner, sent off favourite at 13/8, had half a length in hand at the line, with Stradivarius less than a length behind the runner-up, and Burning Victory just a neck in arrears of him in one of the closest finishes to a Gold Cup in recent times.
Kyprios, owned in partnership with Coolmore, and racing in the colours of Moyglare Stud, has always had a big home reputation, but had to be withdrawn after getting under the stalls when an intended runner in the Queen’s Vase 12 months ago, and missed the rest of 2021.
He has justified his connections faith in him this year, winning the Vintage Crop and Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes on home soil before this victory, and his 14-length demolition of his rivals in the latter propelled him to the front of the market for this biggest of all staying prizes.
He made all at Leopardstown but had to be niggled briefly to hold his pitch in the initial stages here, with Moore then settling him in midfield behind leader Earlofthecotswolds, and crucially on the outside of Stradivarius, ensuring a clear run.
The order barely changed until the home turn, with the field well packed, and Moore was at pains to move Kyprios up on the outside of the strong-travelling Princess Zoe, anticipating the leaders beginning to drop back.
Dettori stayed on the inside and as Rossa Ryan moved up on Mojo Star, Stradivarius was kept in a pocket as the race was beginning in earnest.
Fanning into the straight, Tashkan briefly led, challenging wide of the pacesetting pair Earlofthecotswolds and Bubble Smart who began to weaken. Princess Zoe was four wide, with Kyprios on her outside, and Mojo Star pulled widest of all. That left Stradivarius behind a wall of horses, and Dettori’s decision to pull out and come around the field was crucial, particularly as Will Buick managed to sneak up the rail without difficulty on Burning Victory, who had been tracking Stradivarius through the contest.
With the field covering the last two furlongs only 0.08 seconds slower than Nature Strip had on Tuesday, this was clearly more of a test of speed than stamina at the trip, and Ryan Moore’s decision to maintain a good track position paid dividends.
For Stradivarius and Dettori it was a sorry repeat of last year, when the rider also found himself in a pocket at the same point, and while Frankie must have felt frustrated, neither John Gosden nor owner Bjorn Neilsen were in the mood to offer any sympathy to their jockey in the race’s aftermath.
Most of the post-race discussion featured first and third for different reasons, but it would be remiss to pass over Mojo Star. He was running for the first time since the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and a huge race in the circumstances, making a run from off the pace which saw him hit the front before a race-fit Kyprios rallied, and his record of finishing second in a Derby, St Leger and a Gold Cup is as meritorious as it is frustrating for his connections.
The first three could well meet back at two miles in the Goodwood Cup, and that promises to be one of the races of the summer, especially if Trueshan, last year’s winner, gets his ground.
Aidan O’Brien already held the record for most Gold Cups won by a trainer, and stretched that number to eight with this success, and at the age of four, and with so few miles on the clock, this horse should be around the Gold Cup scene for some time, something the Master of Ballydoyle hinted at after the race.
“Kyprios is easy to train. He is light-bodied and a good mover. He looks after himself and they are all the things that he will need. He did it today and hopefully he can do it in the years to come. He could go to Goodwood next or something like the Irish St Leger.
“I think everybody would want to aim him back here next year. We’ll see how he comes out of this, but those are the sort of races we could target.”
“It wasn’t a nice race to ride,” said Ryan Moore in a revealing post-race debrief. “I didn’t like the position I was in. I knew I had Frankie on my inside, and they were going slow up front. I had to move him to the outside and I don’t like doing that, but I felt I had to keep Kyprios going.”