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Royal Ascot: Gold Cup run beckons for Earlofthecotswolds as Nigel Twiston-Davies and team opt to miss Sandown

Earlofthecotswolds skipping Henry II Stakes at Sandown on May 26 and heading straight to Royal Ascot; Gold Cup contenders Stradivarius and Kyprios emerged as seriously challengers to Trueshan with victories last week

Earlofthecotswolds has switched from hurdling to the flat
Image: Earlofthecotswolds (nearside) hangs on to beat Marshall Plan on All-Weather Finals Day

Nigel Twiston-Davies will send Earlofthecotswolds straight to the Ascot Gold Cup following his All-Weather Marathon win at Newcastle.

The five-time hurdles winner has been outstanding since he switched to the Flat, with two wins at Kempton and another at Newcastle.

Those victories have earned the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National-winning trainer almost £100,000, well in excess of what he has earned in his career previously.

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The eight-year-old, who has won three of his five all-weather races and 11 of 30 starts overall, is now on course to take on Prix du Cadran and dual Long Distance Cup winner Trueshan, and Friday's Yorkshire Cup hero Stradivarius, who seeks a fourth Gold Cup success.

Earlofthecotwolds is currently around 33/1 for the two-and-a-half-mile showpiece on June 16.

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An emotional William Twiston-Davies spoke to Sky Sports Racing after victory with Earlofthecotswolds in the All-Weather Championships Marathon.

Willie Twiston-Davies, the trainer's son who retired from the saddle in 2017 to become a bloodstock agent, is responsible for buying Earlofthecotswolds, whose all-the-way victory at Newcastle put him in line for a crack at the feature race on Ladies Day at the Royal meeting.

Part-owned by Ged Mason, the German-bred gelding will go straight to the Berkshire track, rather than taking in the Henry II Stakes.

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The trainer said: "He will go straight to the Gold Cup - he won't go to Sandown. He is in good form, all brilliant, and we're looking forward to it."

Earlofthecotswolds with jockey Liam Keniry and connections after winning the Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes
Image: Earlofthecotswolds with jockey Liam Keniry and connections after victory at Newcastle

King keeping wary eye on Trueshan rivals ahead of Royal Ascot

Trueshan's trainer Alan King was an interested bystander as Stradivarius took his third Yorkshire Cup on Friday and is keeping a wary eye on the opposition ahead of his bid for the Ascot Gold Cup.

John and Thady Gosden seek a fourth Gold Cup with the gallant Stradivarius, who was cut to 3/1 joint-favourite by Coral for the feature two-and-a-half-mile event at the Royal meeting, joining dual Group One winner Trueshan at the head of the market.

Image: Hollie Doyle smiles after Trueshan's victory in the Goodwood Cup

Last season's Prix du Cadran winner was a Knavesmire absentee because of the fast conditions, as eight-year-old entire Stradivarius galloped to into the history books, winning an 18th European Group race and surpassing Cirrus Des Aigles.

Stradivarius was not the only stayer to have piqued King's interest on Friday, with Adian O'Brien's Kyprios powering to a 14-length victory in the mile-and-three-quarter Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown.

The four-year-old subsequently saw his odds halved and is now 100/30 third-best in the market with the same firm.

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Frankie Dettori is looking forward to giving the Royal Ascot crowd their chance to honour three-time Gold Cup winner Stradivarius as he looks set to return to the race for the final time.

Having had just one run this season, taking the Listed Further Flight Stakes at Nottingham early last month, King was hoping to get another run into six-year-old Trueshan before the June 16 Gold Cup, although he admitted he was hoping the current dry spell would break.

King said: "Stradivarius produced a great performance - he was awesome. It was lovely to see. We just called it (not going to York) on Wednesday morning, as we thought by Friday the ground was going to be too quick. So, I didn't really want to send them up there and not run him.

Kyprios looks set to head for the Ascot Gold Cup next month
Image: Kyprios looks set to head for the Ascot Gold Cup next month

"I'm thrilled for Stradivarius. It was a great, wonderful performance again. We will just regroup and have a quiet couple of days.

"Sandown's Henry II Stakes is a possibility a week on Thursday, but if we have to wait for Ascot, we will. This weather has got to break sooner or later, hasn't it?

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"It has been so long since we had decent rain. So, we'll train him for Sandown and if that's not going to happen, we will train him for Ascot. It is not a major issue if he doesn't go there. I'm a bit more relaxed with it all the way through."

King was similarly impressed by young pretender Kyprios and added: "It was wonderful to see Stradivarius run so well, but Aidan's horse did awfully well as well, so it is all building up. And we're looking forward to it."

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