Royal Ascot 2024: Kyprios Triumphs Again for O’Brien and Moore

The Gold Cup champion’s diadem at Ascot has been steadfastly defended since the race’s inception in 1807, but seldom has it been recaptured. Anticipation in 1819 and Kayf Tara in 2000 were the only antecedent victors of the Gold Cup in non-sequential years. Kyprios ambled to the start for the royal gathering’s marquee race on Thursday, and only after an extended and memorable skirmish with Trawlerman—who had bested Kyprios in their previous encounter—did Aidan O’Brien’s six-year-old etch his name as the third on this exclusive roster. Here, fans of the sport find ample opportunities to engage with the excitement of these prestigious events.

Kyprios’s prowess was undisputed before Thursday’s Group One event. He solidified his reputation as the preeminent stayer of his era with an unblemished six-race campaign in 2022, securing victories in the Gold Cup, the Goodwood Cup, and a scarcely believable 20-length triumph in the Prix du Cadran at Longchamp.

The injury-plagued 2023 season, however, jeopardized his career. Yet, it is a testament to O’Brien’s unparalleled skill that Kyprios was meticulously prepared, both physically and mentally, for the arduous journey to another Gold Cup triumph. The contest oscillated from the two-furlong marker, with William Buick setting near-flawless fractions on Trawlerman, who had narrowly defeated Kyprios by a neck in the stayer’s race at Champions Day last October. After Kyprios claimed a slender lead, Buick reserved enough vigor to launch a renewed bid and draw level once more.

Kyprios, though, possesses an indomitable spirit to match his talent. He dug deep when Ryan Moore demanded a final surge, ultimately securing a length advantage at the finish line. O’Brien later remarked that the odds of Kyprios returning to Group One-winning form after his fetlock joint injury was astronomical. “The recovery was possible because of the unwavering dedication of those around him, who worked tirelessly, communicated effectively, and prioritized his well-being.”

Kyprios endured an infection in his joint that infiltrated the joint capsule, typically resulting in a loss of movement. Though he temporarily lost mobility, it was restored. Then it was a matter of getting him to stand, walk, trot, and finally relearn how to canter, as he had to adapt his entire body’s movements anew,” O’Brien recounted. “Rachel [Richardson] rode him during his first work session, and we had no idea what to expect. No horse has been X-rayed or scanned more frequently. Daily assessments were necessary—was he improving? It was incredible.”

On this day, Moore accomplished a 26-1 double, surpassing Frankie Dettori’s record of 81 Royal Ascot winners to become the active rider with the most wins at the meeting, narrowly winning the Group Two Ribblesdale Stakes on O’Brien’s Port Fairy. Despite his current dominance, Moore acknowledges that matching Lester Piggott’s all-time record of 116 Royal Ascot victories remains a distant goal. “Honestly, I hadn’t even considered it,” Moore said of his recent milestone. It’s all about the horses; I’m fortunate to ride them. I remember watching Frankie ride for my grandad [Charlie] at Brighton as a kid. He’s always been the best in my eyes.”

Elmalka on Course for Coronation

The victors of the English and French 1,000 Guineas—Elmalka and Rouhiya—are contenders in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot on Friday. However, betting odds suggest that Opera Singer, who finished third in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh, is the one to watch. This perception may stem from the Newmarket Classic, where the top five finishers were separated by just a length. Despite this, Elmalka’s winning time was commendable, and Fallen Angel, the subsequent Irish Guineas champion, was among those who didn’t place.

Elmalka, a lightly raced runner in the Newmarket field, demonstrated impressive acceleration from far back. Ascot’s round mile, with its steep uphill finish, should be ideal for her, making her a strong contender at approximately 4-1 to replicate her Classic victory.

Royal Ascot Friday Tips

2.30: Although runners trained by Aidan O’Brien and Charlie Appleby dominate the betting, their current form doesn’t place them far ahead of the field. A potential dark horse like Simmering, who finished close third in a competitive race at York on debut, could spring a surprise.

3.05: Jasour’s two-year-old career lost momentum after a Group Two win at Newmarket in July. However, reunited with Jim Crowley for a trial over track and trip in May, he appears overpriced at around 11-2.

4.25: Lightly-raced Shadow Dance was a close second behind Alkasib in the Old Rowley Cup in October. Though he hasn’t had a prep race, trainer Roger Varian is adept at preparing horses for a first-time run, suggesting Shadow Dance could progress rapidly at four.

5.05: Joseph O’Brien’s Without Words presents a challenge for the handicapper after races at Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Listowel. An opening mark of 92 might be modest, making her an intriguing bet at around 14-1 in a highly open race.

5.40: Theory Of Tides, with two minor victories, posted a strong time in his latest win at Yarmouth. With several runners at similar or shorter odds facing uncertainties, he stands out.

6.15: Dyrholaey, lightly raced and unbeaten, aims to secure a second consecutive win for Archie Watson in this race, suggesting there’s more to come from this promising contender.

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