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York and Doncaster on the agenda for Stradivarius

John Gosden will look to York and Doncaster with Stradivarius, after the superstar stayer was denied his attempt at a fifth successive victory in the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup due to ground conditions.

The Bjorn Nielsen-owned gelding has carried all before him in the Group One over two miles, and was aiming to return to winning ways after his defeat in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

However, an overnight deluge saw the ground turn to heavy, soft in places before the start of racing – and after assessing conditions following the first race on the Downs, Stradivarius’ handlers opted not to run.

John and Thady Gosden talk to owner Bjorn Nielsen at Goodwood
John and Thady Gosden talk to owner Bjorn Nielsen at Goodwood (PA)

Gosden, who trains Stradivarius with his son Thady, said: “It’s difficult because obviously we were very keen to try to do something that has never been done before, which is win five Goodwood Cups in a row. He is in great form, full of himself and ready to run but I’m afraid when you get 60mm of rain since midday Sunday and another bucketload last night…

“I walked the track out in the country with Thady and the stick is going straight to the bottom. It turns it into a bit of a two-mile slog and Stradivarius is a horse who can travel with a great acceleration and a great turn of foot.

“He can put in pretty amazing fractions for the last two/three furlongs but you are not going to do it on that ground. I think at his age, you have to play to his strengths.

John Gosden had to make a difficult decision with Stradivarius
John Gosden had to make a difficult decision with Stradivarius (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We made foolish decisions last year to run him at Longchamp on bottomless ground by the River Seine, which he loathed, and then even more stupid to run him on Champions Day on very heavy ground at Ascot. Having made the mistake twice, we weren’t quite prepared to do the same thing again.

“All being well and doing things right by the horse, we would like to go to the Lonsdale at York, which is a race he knows well. The easiest thing is to run, the hardest thing is not to run. You must always remember to do what is in the best interests of the horse.

“All being well, we will go to the Lonsdale and look at something like the Doncaster Cup after that.”

Stradivarius forced to miss Goodwood Cup due to ground conditions

Stradivarius was denied his attempt at a fifth successive victory in the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup due to ground conditions.

John and Thady Gosden’s star stayer has carried all before him in the Group One over two miles, and was aiming to return to wining ways after his defeat in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

However, an overnight deluge saw the ground turn to heavy, soft in places before the start of racing – and after assessing conditions following the first race on the Downs, Stradivarius’ handlers opted not to run.

John and Thady Gosden talk to owner Bjorn Nielsen at Goodwood
John and Thady Gosden talk to owner Bjorn Nielsen at Goodwood (PA)

Gosden senior said: “There has been so much rain since Sunday my stick went right to the hilt and for a horse with his acceleration, it could have become a slogging match.

“He disliked the ground at Longchamp which is next to the River Seine, and loathed it on Champions Day at Ascot. The easiest thing is to run and the hardest not to run. We had made the mistake twice and were not prepared to make it again.

“But it’s been a difficult decision taking stock of the fact he would have tried to achieve something that has never been done before.

“I do think that when this happens there is an option to switch to the inner track, but as things stand we will look to run him at York in the Lonsdale Cup.”

Stradivarius primed in pursuit of fifth Goodwood Cup

Stradivarius bids to put Royal Ascot disappointment behind him by claiming a remarkable fifth victory in the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup.

With three Gold Cups at Royal Ascot, back-to-back wins in both the Yorkshire Cup and the Lonsdale Cup and a Doncaster Cup thrown in for good measure, it is fair to say the seven-year-old’s status as one of the sport’s great stayers has long since been assured.

John and Thady Gosden’s charge came up short in his attempt to emulate Yeats with a fourth Gold Cup success last month, but he will be a hot favourite to get back on the winning trail and bring the house down on his return to the Sussex Downs on Tuesday.

“He didn’t have much of a race at Ascot, so that race didn’t seem to knock him back too far physically,” said John Gosden.

“He’s won four Goodwood Cups in a row, which takes some doing. It’s going to be a fascinating race, with some very nice horses turning up, and you’re always going to need some luck in running around Goodwood – given it’s not exactly a big, open galloping track.

“Goodwood is quintessentially different – rolling in and out, left, right and has cambers. It should make for an exciting day on Tuesday.

“He’s been a pleasure and a lot of fun to train through the years – but as a seven-year-old full horse, he probably knows a great deal more about the game than I do!

“It’d be wonderful if he puts in a big performance and runs well or wins, but even to have him there for a fifth time is an achievement for everyone here in itself.”

Stradivarius is set to renew rivalry with several horses who also contested the Gold Cup at the Royal meeting, but sadly not the impressive winner Subjectivist – who will miss the rest of this season because of injury, with his future beyond that uncertain.

Jockey Franny Norton celebrates after winning the Princess Of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes on Sir Ron Priestley
Jockey Franny Norton celebrates after winning the Princess Of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes on Sir Ron Priestley (David Davies/Jockey Club)

In Subjectivist’s absence, trainer Mark Johnston saddles his half-brother Sir Ron Priestley and Nayef Road, but admits neither matches up to his sidelined stable star.

“I’d have put Subjectivist alongside Attraction and Shamardal as one of the three best I’ve trained,” said Johnston.

“He was one of those rare horses with which you weren’t really concerned about the opposition, because he was better than anything out there, and I can’t obviously say the same about Nayef Road or even Sir Ron Priestley.”

Sir Ron Priestley is a previous winner at Goodwood and has won both the Jockey Club Stakes and the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket this season.

However, sandwiched in between those runs were disappointing efforts in the Yorkshire Cup and the Hardwicke Stakes, and the five-year-old has to prove his stamina on his first start over two miles.

Johnston added: “We agonised over paying £25,000 to supplement Sir Ron Priestley – and I had to convince myself I was doing it for the owner, not myself, because there’s some uncertainty about the trip.

“In the Yorkshire Cup it looked very much as if he didn’t stay, but it’s hard to equate that with his St Leger second or his Nottingham win, and at the beginning of the year we had no doubt he would stay two miles.”

Nayef Road was runner-up to Stradivarius in last year’s Goodwood Cup, but has not been in the same form so far this term.

“Nayef Road’s recent runs have been mixed, but in some of them he’s shown a glimmer of his best and he deserves to be there on past performance,” added his trainer.

“I don’t think any of us would be surprised if he was in the shake-up, but he’d need a personal best and Stradivarius to be below form if he were to win.”

Spanish Mission winning the Yorkshire Cup
Spanish Mission winning the Yorkshire Cup (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Spanish Mission finished one place ahead of Stradivarius when third in the Gold Cup, but trainer Andrew Balding is more hopeful than confident that he will confirm that form at Goodwood.

He said: “This has been the plan for a long time, and we are really pleased with him – we just wouldn’t want too much rain.

“Stradivarius is a fairly awesome opponent – and if he’s anywhere near his best he’s going to be very tough to beat – but on his Yorkshire Cup win and his Gold Cup third, Spanish Mission ought to be very competitive.”

With soft ground set to prevail on the opening day of the meeting, the horse rated the biggest threat to Stradivarius by bookmakers in a race which forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series is Alan King’s proven mud-lover Trueshan.

Last season’s Long Distance Cup scorer missed the Gold Cup after the rain failed to arrive in time, instead carrying a big weight into sixth in the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle the following week.

“To see Trueshan at his best, it’s a case of the more rain the better,” said King.

“He looked very good at Ascot on British Champions Day and we’ve been very pleased with him this year. I was very pleased I ran him at Newcastle in the Northumberland Plate, because you can’t keep these horses simmering away forever – and he had a proper race there.

“Everything has gone very smoothly in the build-up since, and we’ll see what happens.”

Aidan O’Brien runs last year’s Derby hero Serpentine, Irish Derby winner Santiago and recent Curragh Cup scorer Amhran Na Bhfiann, all of whom finished down the field in the Gold Cup.

Santiago after winning the Irish Derby
Santiago after winning the Irish Derby (PA)

“We’re just not really sure with Santiago whether he gets the two miles,” said O’Brien.

“He could have to go back to a mile and six, and he could have to go back to a mile and a half.

“He had a very good run in the Goodwood Cup last year (finished third) and he’s been very well since Ascot. We’re very happy with him and very happy with his work.

“Amhran Na Bhfiann is a horse we think likes to be ridden forward – and we think going back to two miles is going to suit him.

“He ran in the Gold Cup, and we made plenty of use of him. Maybe, over that trip, we might have made too much use of him.

“We think he’s a horse who is progressing with every run.”

Stradivarius faces 10 rivals in bid for fifth Goodwood Cup

Stradivarius is set to face 10 rivals in his bid for a remarkable fifth victory in Tuesday’s Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup.

John and Thady Gosden’s superstar stayer has landed the two-mile Group One ever year since 2017, beating the great Double Trigger’s record of three victories in the race in the 1990s.

Despite having come up short in his bid for a fourth Gold Cup success at Royal Ascot last month, Stradivarius will be a hot favourite to get back on the winning trail on the Sussex Downs under Frankie Dettori.

With his Gold Cup hero Subjectivist sidelined by injury, Mark Johnston instead saddles his half-brother Sir Ron Priestley and his stablemate Nayef Road.

Sir Ron Priestley steps up to two miles for the first time off the back of winning the Group Two Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket over a mile and a half, while Nayef Road was runner-up to Stradivarius in last year’s Goodwood Cup, but has been disappointing of late.

Andrew Balding will have high hopes for Spanish Mission, who was one place ahead of Stradivarius when third in the Gold Cup.

Franny Norton celebrates after winning the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes on Sir Ron Priestley
Franny Norton celebrates after winning the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes on Sir Ron Priestley (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Aidan O’Brien retains a strong hand, with recent Curragh Cup winner Amhran Na Bhfiann joined by Serpentine and Santiago, who won the Derby and the Irish Derby respectively last season.

The Donnacha O’Brien-trained Emperor Of The Sun is a fourth Irish challenger.

Away He Goes (Ismail Mohammed), Mekong (Jamie Osborne) and Trueshan (Alan King) complete the field.

Stradivarius’ owner Bjorn Nielsen expects his Goodwood rivals to “try to make it difficult” for the reigning champion, but he believes his star stayer can to rise to the challenge in an event which is part of the Qipco British Champions series.

He said: “Most of the time when you go racing as an owner you hope they run well, and you hope maybe they’ll win, but Stradivarius is that rarest of horse and it’s been the case since he won his first Gold Cup that you go there hoping he isn’t going to lose, so the feeling watching a race is the opposite to what it normally is.

“The way it is with him now is that he’s always the one they have to beat and they ride to beat him, so a lot of horses will be trying to make sure he doesn’t have a good run round. They are going to try to make it difficult for him and that’s what happened at Ascot. But if he’s out and about he’s going to win.”

Stradivarius and Frankie Dettori after winning at Goodwood last year
Stradivarius and Frankie Dettori after winning at Goodwood last year (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Nielsen would have relished a rematch with Subjectivist at Goodwood and while that rival will not line up, the owner is still anticipating a tough test.

He said: “Stradivarius had worked very well before the Gold Cup and we were pretty confident he was going to run a huge race, but things just didn’t work out – no disrespect to Subjectivist, who was well trained, well ridden, and quickened up exactly as we were getting stopped.

“I was really looking forward to the rematch but we’ll never know now what might have happened. But Subjectivist wouldn’t have been that far ahead of us again turning in if he were here, I’m sure of that.

“There are still some very good horses there though, and any rain is going to suit Trueshan. We can’t underestimate Sir Ron Priestley either, who Mark Johnston has supplemented and is no slouch. You are always going to need some luck in running at Goodwood too – things have to go your way.”

Inspiral is Sandown Star

Inspiral maintained her unbeaten record with a thoroughly impressive display in the British Stallion Studs EBF Star Stakes.

Owned and bred by Cheveley Park Stud, the daughter of Frankel had made a big impression when making a winning start to her career on Newmarket’s July Course last month and was the even-money favourite stepping up to Listed class at Sandown.

Deliberately dropped out last by Frankie Dettori, John and Thady Gosden’s filly looked green once angled wide at the top of the home straight, but it is testament to her latent ability that she made swift progress to move to within striking distance of the leaders.

Once asked to fully extend, Inspiral soon kicked clear and was ultimately good value for the winning margin of three and a half lengths.

The hat-trick seeking Wild Beauty filled the runner-up spot, with the winner’s stablemate Sunstrike just a neck further behind in third.

“She’s always been a classy filly. Her mother (Starscope) was with us and she had a lot of ability – and we know all about the father,” John Gosden told Racing TV.

“She’d done normal work at home on the bridle and won very nicely (at Newmarket). We thought this was the race to come for straight away – a Listed race with level weights, rather than giving away 7lb in a novice.

“They went pretty strong up front. Frankie was out the back and thought ‘I better get a move on’. He came round them and then as he said, he hit the front far too soon. She’s never been in front like that before, so she’s done well.

“She’d shown a lot of ability and I thought she’d enjoy the track here. She’ll have no problem getting a mile.”

Considering future targets, the trainer added: “The May Hill at Doncaster would be an obvious place to go with her. That gives her five to six weeks between races and she has a big frame, so she doesn’t want over-racing this year.”

Paddy Power made Inspiral a 33-1 shot for next year’s 1000 Guineas immediately after the race, but soon trimmed her odds for the Rowley Mile Classic to 16-1.

Stradivarius poised for Goodwood Cup

John Gosden feels Stradivarius is heading back to Goodwood next week in top shape despite him coming up short in his bid for a fourth Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

With Ascot winner Subjectivist absent from the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup on Tuesday due to injury, John and Thady Gosden’s seven-year-old is an odds-on favourite.

He has already won the race four times, more than any other horse, but Gosden would have loved to have taken on his Ascot conqueror again.

“He’s been in good order since Royal Ascot. The Gold Cup was a fascinating race and Subjectivist put in a superb performance,” he said.

“I’d love to have got in a race with the winner, but we never had the opportunity to get there and that’s life.

“I think Frankie (Dettori), having ridden him so brilliantly in previous Gold Cups, seemed to have a brainstorm and sit 12 lengths of the pace!

“I’m sorry that Subjectivist is not able to run next week, it’s heartbreaking for everyone involved and it would have been great to have enjoyed a ‘Duel on the Downs’.”

Having lost one stable star to retirement in Enable last season, Gosden is thankful to owner Bjorn Nielsen for keeping Stradivarius in training as long as he has.

“He’s very much part of family here – we had Enable with us until she was a six-year-old and him until he is seven. It doesn’t normally happen with full horses like him,” said Gosden.

“Everyone enjoys his company, and he checks everything in and out from his box and he knows Clarehaven inside and out. He enjoys going out on the Heath and shouting at the other strings!”

Mark Johnston’s Sir Ron Priestley was a supplementary entry for the contest after his victory over Al Aasy in the Princess Of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket in June taking the number of possibles to 13.

The five-year-old bounced back from two successive losses to win at Newmarket and will now be one of two Johnston runners alongside Nayef Road.

Sir Ron Priestley fended off Al Aasy at Newmarket
Sir Ron Priestley fended off Al Aasy at Newmarket (David Davies/PA)

Sir Ron Priestley was defeated in the Yorkshire Cup Stakes by Andrew Balding’s Spanish Mission and the two are likely to meet again.

Spanish Mission followed up his Knavesmire victory with a third-placed run in the Gold Cup at Ascot, a performance that saw him finish ahead of several Goodwood Cup rivals.

Amongst them were the  Aidan O’Brien-trained trio of Santiago, Serpentine and Amhran Na Bhfiann, who finished seventh, eighth and 11th respectively.

Only the latter has run since, triumphing in a Group Two at the Curragh by seven lengths.

O’Brien has two further entrants in the race, with King Of The Castle also engaged alongside Passion, who was third behind Amhran Na Bhfiann in the Curragh Cup.

Emperor Of The Sun holds an entry for O’Brien’s youngest son Donnacha, with Alan King’s Champions Day winner Trueshan also engaged.

Jamie Osborne’s Mekong and Ismail Mohammed’s Away He Goes complete the list.

Waldkonig’s season in the balance

John Gosden hopes to have Waldkonig back in action this season, but the lightly-raced colt is still on the easy list.

The four-year-old has raced only five times in his life and was last seen winning the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown in April.

He missed the second half of last season with a tooth infection, which required two operations, but he remains a horse of untapped potential.

Waldkonig looked to have a big season ahead when winning at Sandown
Waldkonig looked to have a big season ahead when winning at Sandown (Nick Robson/PA)

“He’s still on the easy list – he got a nasty foot infection which the vets have been battling with,” said Gosden.

“It has just kept him away from games and it’s been frustrating.

“He’s had no luck, that horse. It’s been one thing after another, bless him.

“I hope he’ll be back this season, but it’s in the hands of the vets.”

King George could be preferred destination for Mishriff

Connections of Mishriff will consider two options for the return to action of Mishriff, with the Sky Bet York Stakes a possible alternative to the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes – though the Ascot showpiece appears to be the more likely target.

As a dual Group One winner, the John and Thady Gosden-trained Mishriff would have to give a lot of weight to the Group Two opposition on the Knavesmire that could include the highly-regarded three-year-old colt Mohaafeth.

The weight differential is not as much in the King George because of its top-level status.

Mishriff in the paddock before the Eclipse
Mishriff in the paddock before the Eclipse (Nick Robson/PA)

Both races are on Saturday week, which could give Mishriff enough time to recover ahead of another target on the horizon, the Juddmonte International, over York’s extended mile and a quarter on August 18.

Mishriff’s two Group One triumphs have come on foreign soil, in the French Derby and the Dubai Sheema Classic, and connections would love the Make Believe colt to achieve a domestic success at the top level.

He was last seen in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, finishing third to St Mark’s Basilica.

“He might go to York or he might go to the King George. He’s got to give away a lot more weight at York as he gets a Group One penalty there as well as (giving away) the age allowance. It’s in John’s hands,” said Ted Voute, racing manager to owner Prince Faisal.

“Mishriff came back from the Eclipse and was kicking and bucking. John said was very fresh so he got him back on the gallops.

“After the Eclipse he blew quite a bit. He’s a four-year-old now and that might have put him spot on for a race next Saturday.

“It’s in John’s hands and the Prince is happy to go with whatever he feels.

“We’ll wait and see where he guides us, but I suspect he’ll guide us to the King George. That seems to be the way the vibes are.

“There’s only one horse, Twice Over, who has one the Group Two at York and then the Juddmonte at York. There is a Group One at Munich, but we’d have to supplement him.

“That was in the middle of the Eclipse and the Juddmonte, but we are keen to get a domestic Group One. That would be the icing on the cake.”

Reach For The Moon makes no mistake at Newbury

Royal Ascot runner-up Reach For The Moon carried the colours of the Queen to an impressive victory in the second race at Newbury on Friday.

Trained by John and Thady Gosden, the son of Sea The Stars came close to providing Her Majesty with a winner at last month’s showpiece meeting – going down by just half a length to Aidan O’Brien’s Point Lonsdale in the Chesham Stakes.

Having also filled the runner-up spot on his racecourse debut at Yarmouth in May, Reach For The Moon was the 2-9 favourite to make it third time lucky in division two of the bet365 EBF Novice Stakes and the result was scarcely in doubt.

Always travelling strongly in the hands of Frankie Dettori, the youngster moved smoothly to the front over a furlong out before rocketing four lengths clear of Harrow.

Gosden senior said: “He was entitled to do that but there was no pace and he quickened well, that will bring him on.

“He’s a grand colt and we’ll look towards the Solario with him now.

“We could have gone straight into another Group race, but you can see he’s quite playful – we’ll leave it at that! To that extent we’ll look for a race in August and the Solario is a nice race.

“He’ll get further. He’ll be comfortable over a mile this year and over middle distances next year because he switched off with no pace today. Frankie wanted to take a lead today.

“In the Chesham there was a strip of ground from his draw in two and I told Frankie to stay straight, so he raced on his own in the Chesham.”

Intelligentsia (5-1) then made a winning debut in the royal colours in the bet365 EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.

Trained by Richard Hughes, the Exceed And Excel filly showed a smart change of gear for Pat Dobbs and looked home and hosed, only for Majestic Glory to close to within a neck.

“She’d shown plenty. She’s an end of May foal, but we gave her a swing one morning and I liked what I saw, we gave her another and she’s never let me down so we saw no point hanging on,” said Hughes.

“It was important she had a flat track and nice ground. but she’s smart.

“The Dick Poole at Salisbury, something like that in six weeks, I don’t want to rush her.

“Her brother did win over seven but ended up running over five and six, so I don’t want to bring her back to five in case she gets seven, if that makes sense.

“On her pedigree and the speed she shows, if she gets a mile she’s really good.”

The Queen went on to enjoy an across-the-card treble – from her three runners on the day – when Portfolio (9-2) made all in the Rich Energy Fillies’ Handicap at Newmarket.

Ryan Moore dictated affairs from the start on the daughter of Deep Impact, who found more when challenged by Brunnera in the final furlong to score by a length and a half for Sir Michael Stoute’s stable.

Gosden anticipating Eclipse to savour for racing ‘purists’

John Gosden has labelled this year’s Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown a race the purists will enjoy as he prepares his globetrotting star Mishriff to face just three rivals.

Wins at the highest level in France and Dubai, plus a valuable race on dirt in Saudi Arabia, have propelled Mishriff from fairly modest beginnings into one of the highest-rated thoroughbreds on the planet.

His presence, along with that of William Haggas’ Addeybb, who is actually 3lb his superior on British figures, and Aidan O’Brien’s French Guineas and Derby winner St Mark’s Basilica means despite the small field, the 10-furlong contest will answer plenty of questions.

Gosden feels the size of the field is understandable, too, given the quality of the big three and the race’s proximity to Royal Ascot.

“He’s not the highest-rated horse, Addeybb is rated 3lb higher officially. I know it’s an elitist field but what people have to realise is that it’s a lot of money to enter these races, a lot of money to stay in at the forfeit stage and it’s a lot of money to confirm,” he said.

“When you have the likes of the front three here, they are not easy to take on so I think a lot of people take that viewpoint. Another thing for those criticising the small field to remember is the Prince of Wales’s was only 16 days ago and I know from experience that it’s very tough to come here after that.

“For the purists this is the type of race they enjoy – and you’ll probably find the outsider, El Drama, will come and do the lot of them!”

Since racing resumed in June last year, Mishriff has raced six times, winning all bar the Champion Stakes in October on ground Gosden described as “diabolical”.

Mishriff going through his paces on the Newmarket gallops
Mishriff going through his paces on the Newmarket gallops (Joe Giddens/PA)

“I don’t want to be critical, but the ground at Ascot on Champions Day was diabolical. I had a lot disappoint and so did Aidan (O’Brien),” said Gosden.

“It’s no one’s fault, but it was bottomless. We used the inner track there once very successfully and when it gets very soft it should be an option.”

It did not stop Addeybb, who relished the testing going, but conditions are set to be a fair bit quicker this weekend.

“I’ve got tons of respect for Addeybb, I think he’s a wonderful horse. He’s won a Champion Stakes, Grade Ones in Sydney and there is talk of some rain on Saturday afternoon. He would enjoy that, we’d be happier on anything from good to firm to good to soft,” said Gosden.

“Of course then you have the big question, in this race you have the best mile-and-a-quarter three-year-old colt in Europe running (St Mark’s Basilica). He’s won a Dewhurst, a French Guineas and he’s gone and won a Prix du Jockey Club the same as Mishriff, so it’s the ultimate test of the three-year-old against his elders.

“Interestingly I always remember Lester (Piggott) saying to me the three-year-olds always have the advantage in the Eclipse with the weight-for-age. I think it has changed 1lb since then. I’ve never been afraid to run three-year-olds in this, nor for the matter the King George.

“Roaring Lion and Golden Horn were three when they won it (the Eclipse) and took advantage of the weight, Enable was coming back off a long lay off when she beat her old friend Magical and last year ran against Ghaiyyath, so to that extent it is always demanding, but Mishriff is a lovely horse and fits in with that type.

“We’re very happy with him going in, but we’re perfectly aware of the task at hand.”

David Egan is making up for lost time on Mishriff
David Egan is making up for lost time on Mishriff (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Former champion apprentice jockey David Egan rides in his role as retained jockey to owner Prince Faisal, although he missed the French victories through suspension and quarantine complications and was overlooked in favour of Frankie Dettori for the Champion Stakes. He was on board in Riyadh and Meydan, though.

“David has ridden him very well, he pops up on him not long before his races, he knows him well. He’s a classy guy, a good rider, a good horseman and he’s very intelligent with it,” said Gosden.”

While he has a win on dirt to his name, Gosden is not currently considering the Breeders’ Cup due to it being held at Del Mar this year.

“I think he needs to win a Group One here. He’s done it in France, he’s done it in the Middle East, it would be nice if he could do it in the UK,” said Gosden.

“I’m not thinking of the Breeders’ Cup for him, though, he’s more of a Belmont horse than Del Mar – the straight is very short at Del Mar, probably the shortest in the world for a Grade One track.

“He’s a horse who just puts his head down and gallops strongly, can handle any ground, he has a clawing action where he really reaches for the ground which helps (on dirt) to a degree. He seems to be comfortable on anything, it’s probably mental determination rather than anything else.

“I think his versatility is down to his action and his attitude.”

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes Betting Trends

Staged at Ascot racecourse, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes is run over a distance of 1m4f and is generally regarded as Britain’s most prestigious all-aged flat horse race.

With over £600,000 up for grabs for the winner the it goes without saying the race always attracts horses from the best yards around the country with Sir Michael Stoute and Saeed Bin Suroor, who have won the King George six and five times, are the trainers with the best recent record in the contest, while the powerful Aidan O’Brien yard have won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes four times. Don’t forget the John Gosden yard either – they’ve won the race 3 times in the last 6 years.

12 months ago, in 2020 we saw the popular mare – Enable – win the race for a third time after winning the race in 2019 and 2017 too.

Here at GeeGeez, we take a look back at the recent winners of the race and gives you the key trends to look out for ahead of the 2021 renewal – this year run on Saturday 24th July.

 

Recent King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes Winners

2020 – Enable (4/9 fav)
2019 – Enable (8/15 fav)
2018 – Poet’s Word (7/4)
2017 – Enable (5/4 fav)
2016 – Highland Reel (13/8 fav)
2015 – Postponed (6/1)
2014 – Taghrooda (7/2)
2013 – Novellist (13/2)
2012 – Danedream (9/1)
2011 – Nathaniel (11/2)
2010 – Harbinger (4/1)
2009 – Conduit (13/8 fav)
2008 – Duke of Marmalade (4/6 fav)
2007 – Dylan Thomas (5/4 fav)
2006 – Hurricane Run (5/6 fav)
2005 – Azamour (5/2 fav)
2004 – Doyen (11/10 fav)
2003 – Alamshar (13/2)
2002 – Golan (11/2)

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes Trends

19/19 – Previous Group 1 or 2 winners
17/19 – Had won over 1m4f before
16/19 – Aged 3 or 4 years-old
16/19 – Had 2 or more runs already that season
16/19 – Returned 6/1 or shorter in the betting
16/19 – Placed last time out
15/19 – Previous Group 1 winner
12/19 – aged 4 years-old
12/19 – Had run Ascot before
11/19 – Won their previous race
10/19 – Favourites that won
8/19 – Ran at Royal Ascot last time out
8/19 – Won at Ascot before
5/19 – Trained by John Gosden
4/19 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
3/19 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
Frankie Dettori has ridden the winner in 1995, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2017, 2019 and 2020
2 of the last 7 winners were that season’s Epsom Oaks winner
Galileo (2001) was the last horse to do the Derby/King George double
Trainer John Gosden won the race in 2011, 2014, 2017, 2019 & 2020
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute won the race in 1981, 1983, 2002, 2009, 2010 & 2018
Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor won the race in 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 & 2004
Trainer Aidan O’Brien won the race in 2001, 2007, 2008 & 2016
The average winning SP in the last 19 runnings is 10/3

 

 

 

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Indie Angel heaven sent for Dettori in Duke of Cambridge

Frankie Dettori posted a landmark 75th Royal Ascot winner as John and Thady Gosden’s Indie Angel sprang a surprise in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes .

Dettori, striking for the second time for the Gosdens at this year’s meeting, bided his time on the 22-1 winner as Parent’s Prayer set out to make all and then Lady Bowthorpe made her bid for Group Two glory.

The Italian manoeuvred into position to challenge on the stands side, took over from eventual runner-up Lady Bowthorpe and had two and a half lengths to spare at the line – with favourite Queen Power staying on to take third, just another short head away.

Indie Angel, owned by Cheveley Park Stud, was overturning last month’s Newmarket form – having finished only fourth in the Dahlia Stakes behind both Lady Bowthorpe and Queen Power, over a furlong further than this.

“Everything fell right today,” Dettori said.

“She likes faster ground, cover, and she likes plenty of room – she got all three of those things.

“Well done to the Gosden team, the Clarehaven team.”

Gosden said: “In fairness she won very well last backend, it went a little wrong and I probably ran her before she had come to herself in the spring and she had a little complication in her last race. But we knew she could be competitive with the top fillies – (but) to say that she’d win by two and a half lengths? No, that would have been wishful thinking.

“She relaxed beautifully and she’s bloomed. She looked a different filly today than when we last ran her back in May.

“You’ve got to be looking forwards. She’s now won a Group Two so maybe you start trying to climb even higher up the ladder. We won it last year (with Nazeef) and there are nice races like the Sun Chariot and the nice fillies’ race (Falmouth) at the July meeting for her, so those are possibilities.

“Right now, we’re savouring this moment.”

Frankie Dettori celebrates
Frankie Dettori celebrates (Steven Paston/PA)

Of Lady Bowthorpe, trainer William Jarvis said: “All credit to the winner who was very impressive, but I feel easier ground would have suited us better.

“When a filly is running as well as she is my inclination is not to give her a break. She’s in the Falmouth, but ideally I would love her to try at a mile and a quarter on decent ground in the Nassau (at Goodwood), with the Sun Chariot a possibility longer term.”

Sir Michael Stoute added of Queen Power: “She’s a model of consistency, that’s for sure, and I guess the trip was a little short of her best.”

Stradivarius seeking to join elite Gold Cup club

History beckons for Stradivarius as he chases not only a fourth Gold Cup at Royal Ascot but a fifth successive victory at Flat racing’s showpiece meeting.

As a three-year-old the chestnut won the Queen’s Vase back in 2017 – and that Group Two only hinted at the success-laden career that lay in wait for him.

He immediately took on his elders in the Goodwood Cup, making use of the weight allowance and while a Classic success in the St Leger eluded him by half a length, his four-year-old career was a perfect one.

A Yorkshire Cup, a first Gold Cup, another Goodwood win and a Lonsdale Cup preceded a victory on Champions Day and only a nose defeat to Kew Gardens in the corresponding race 12 months later prevented him from going two seasons unbeaten.

Last year connections experimented with his trip with the intention of running in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and while that did not come off, he showed he was as good as ever on his return in the Sagaro Stakes.

“He seems to love his training still, he still seems to love his racing,” said John Gosden.

“He can be very naughtily behaved beforehand and think he’s in the covering shed – not at the racecourse – but when it comes to the race and he gets down to the start, he can look at a mare and think ‘OK, I’ve a job to do’.

“He worked on the July Course last week and I was very happy with him. Touch wood, we’re ready to go again.”

Stradivarius would join Yeats as the only other horse to have won four Gold Cups, and Gosden believes his first was his stiffest task when beating Vazirabad, Torcedor and Order Of St George.

“He has been remarkable. He has this exciting turn of foot,” said Gosden.

“I think the toughest race of his life was his first Gold Cup against the great French stayer (Vazirabad), but overall I think his record stands up.

“His win in the Sagaro was tidy, pleasant, he (Frankie Dettori) didn’t ask him too much so let’s hope he’s ready for the big one again.

“I’d like to get through Thursday before deciding what next. I know where he (owner Bjorn Nielsen) would like to run, but there’s nothing wrong with five Goodwood Cups is there!”

He did have one word of caution, however – the weather.

He said: “I fear one thing for Stradivarius – thunderstorms – because he has this wonderful turn of foot after two and a half miles but the wet ground, soft ground, blunts it, so we’ll see how we go.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for the new boy on the block, Subjectivist, and a lot of respect for Alan King’s horse (Trueshan), although he would prefer a downpour. There’s no doubt Subjectivist adds a lot of spice to the race.”

Subjectivist is certainly the new kid on the staying block. His trainer Mark Johnston has thrown the likes of Dee Ex Bee, Nayef Road and other good stayers at Stradivarius in recent years, all to no avail.

However, Johnston believes the four-year-old is his best chance chance of downing Gosden’s stayer given the way he won the Prix Royal-Oak in France and the Dubai Gold Cup last time out.

“He did have an injury in that Dubai race. It’s taken him a little while to come back from that and as a result we haven’t had any race in between,” said Johnston, who revealed his colt also had a fall at home recently but escaped injury.

“I think this is the best horse I’ve gone to war with Stradivarius with. We know what a tall order that is – we’ve finished second to him so many times before.

“I won’t be looking at tactics to beat Stradivarius, we’ve just got to hope that we’ve got the best horse on the day.”

Nayef Road is back for more, in a race which forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series.

“Nayef Road is going to Ascot on the back of two disappointing performances, but while his second in the Gold Cup last year was with cut in the ground, we had previously always thought he was better on fast ground,” said Johnston.

“We are hopeful that on better ground we’ll see him back to his best, although there’s obviously some rain forecast on Thursday so we have to be prepared for that.”

Alan King’s Trueshan had Stradivarius a long way behind him when winning on Champions Day – but conditions were testing then and the Barbury Castle trainer has stated plenty of rain will need to fall for him to run.

King said: “He’s been declared, but we are very reliant on thunderstorms hitting Ascot. He’s in great nick and I couldn’t be happier with him, but if it doesn’t rain he doesn’t run. It will have to go to good, or good to soft.”

Trueshan provided Hollie Doyle with one leg of a double on Champions Day
Trueshan provided Hollie Doyle with one leg of a double on Champions Day (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Aidan O’Brien, who trained Yeats, threw a curve ball last week when supplementing last year’s surprise Derby winner Serpentine.

Winless since his incredible Epsom display, in which he made every yard of the running, he had an unusual prep for a two-and-a-half-mile marathon by running in the Tattersalls Gold Cup over an extended 10 furlongs.

“Obviously we won’t know if he stays the trip until he runs over it, but we always thought he’d stay further than a mile and a half,” said O’Brien.

“He seems to be in good form at home, he’s had a run this season and we’re hoping he’ll run well.”

The Ballydoyle handler also runs Santiago, who won the Queen’s Vase at the meeting last year before going on to glory in the Irish Derby.

Santiago won the Queen's Vase at the meeting last year
Santiago won the Queen’s Vase at the meeting last year (Edward Whitaker/PA)

“Santiago is in good form and this has always been the plan for him. He’s had his two runs already this season and we’ve been happy with him since his last run at York,” said O’Brien.

Andrew Balding’s Yorkshire Cup winner Spanish Mission is another with a live chance.

“I’m really pleased with Spanish Mission. I thought it was a really good effort at York, but he faces some mighty opponents here in the likes of Stradivarius, Subjectivist, and Santiago, not to mention Serpentine, who I wasn’t expecting,” said Balding.

“It’s a really intriguing race, as a Gold Cup should be, but Spanish Mission is in great form. It’s another two furlongs further than the Doncaster Cup, which he won last year, but I’d be hopeful that he’ll stay.”

Gosden alive to Ascot threats as Pier goes for Queen Anne gold

John Gosden is taking nothing for granted as Palace Pier bids to double his Royal Ascot tally and justify short odds in the Queen Anne Stakes.

The Kingman colt burst on to the Group One scene with a thrilling victory in the St James’s Palace Stakes 12 months ago, before then making it two top-level victories in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.

He lost his unbeaten record when only third in the QEII at Ascot in October, but has bounced back with successive wins this spring – most recently dominating his rivals in the Lockinge at Newbury.

“He did everything right last year until the end when he ran on very heavy ground, hated it, lost a shoe and got left. He’s come back well this year,” said Gosden.

“It will be different ground again, (but) we’re happy with him, and there’s plenty to look forward to with him.”

Palace Pier will be long odds-on to complete his hat-trick for the season in the opening race of the Royal meeting on Tuesday, but Gosden – who now trains in partnership with son Thady – has been around long enough to know things are rarely as straightforward as they seem.

He added: “Yes, it was (a wow performance at Newbury), (but) I’ve got to be clear that he did handle the ground and maybe a horse like Lope Y Fernadez did not.

“Now we are back on summer ground, you’ll see a lot more horses come into play.”

Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the Lockinge at Newbury on Palace Pier
Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the Lockinge at Newbury on Palace Pier (John Walton/PA)

Gosden feels Palace Pier will stay further than a mile in due course, but is in no rush to step him up in trip.

He said: “I keep being asked when we’ll go a mile and a quarter, but I didn’t know it was imperative he had to go over 10 furlongs.

“He’s capable of stepping up two furlongs if we want to at some stage. Maybe one day, but not right now.”

Top Rank won six of his first eight starts for James Tate, before finishing a creditable third behind Palace Pier at Newbury.

The Newmarket handler hopes faster ground at Ascot will help his charge to at least close the gap in a race which is part of the Qipco British Champions Series.

He said: “He’s in really good form and might even have come on a bit for Newbury – so it’s Palace Pier, round two.

“These are animals, so there’s always a chance of turning the tables. Also, Palace Pier’s only defeat came at Ascot, whereas we’ve never run there – maybe we are an Ascot specialist and just don’t know it yet!

“Top Rank has won on soft ground in the past. But like many Dark Angels, he’s changed as he’s got older and is a bit more muscular and lighter on his feet.

“It was soft enough for him at Newbury, and I’m looking forward to seeing him on quicker ground.”

Order Of Australia is one of two runners for Aidan O'Brien
Order Of Australia is one of two runners for Aidan O’Brien (PA)

Aidan O’Brien is double-handed in his bid for a fifth Queen Anne success.

The Ballydoyle handler saddles Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia, who has been off the track since running in Hong Kong in December, as well as Lope Y Fernandez – well beaten in the Lockinge.

O’Brien said: “Lope ran in Newbury (in the Lockinge) last time out and was a bit disappointing, but we’re putting it down to the (soft) ground.

“Order Of Australia had his last run in Hong Kong. He’s had a good, long break – but we think he’s ready to start now again.

“He wasn’t beaten that far in Hong Kong. He just didn’t have a clear run when he turned in, but he ran very well.”

Haqeeqy has Royal Hunt Cup in sights

Lincoln winner Haqeeqy will aim to get back to winning ways in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot.

John Gosden’s four-year-old looked booked for big things when he won the first major handicap of the season so impressively at Doncaster.

However, upped to Listed class next time out, the Lope De Vega gelding was beaten a length and a half into fourth by Richard Hannon’s durable Oh This Is Us – who came out and franked the form at Epsom last week.

“He won the Lincoln well but didn’t seem to fire at Ascot last time, so we’ve freshened him up,” said Gosden, as he prepares Haqeeqy for Wednesday’s ultra-competitive handicap.

“He’s a sweet horse, a little bit sensitive about life, so I’m hoping being covered up will suit him – I think he likes to be buried and run on late.

“It didn’t happen last time at Ascot – we tried to come down the wing, and it didn’t work out.

“He went through a breeze-up sale, and it tends to just fry their brains, and we’ve always been slightly trying to come back from being a horse who wants to do things the wrong way round in a bit of a hurry.”

On Tuesday, Gosden will attempt to win the Coventry Stakes for just the third time when both Tolstoy and Dhabab will represent him in the Group Two.

Iceman in 2004 and Calyx in 2018 are his only winners of the race to date.

“Rab (Havlin) will keep the ride on Dhabab, while Frankie (Dettori) rides Tolstoy,” said the Newmarket trainer.

“They are two lovely horses – but it’s a big, open race where a lot of them are just maiden winners.

“The smart one in Ireland of Fozzy’s (Stack, Castle Star) hasn’t come over, but it will (still) be highly competitive.

“They’ll probably go in two groups – so you need to think of all the little conundrums, like where the pace is.”