Stradivarius is set to carry on racing as an eight-year-old, connections of the veteran stayer have revealed.
Following discussions, owner Bjorn Nielsen and joint trainers John and Thady Gosden have decided to keep the three-time Ascot Gold Cup winner in training in 2022.
The Royal Ascot showpiece, in which he finished fourth this season, will again be a main objective – preceded by a prep run.
“He’s still training as he did four years ago, so we’re happy to race on. We’re looking forward to it,” Nielsen told www.sportinglife.com.
The owner reports Stradivarius is expected to reappear in either the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot or Yorkshire Cup at York, before heading to the Royal meeting.
Stradivarius won three of his six races this year – the Sagaro, the Lonsdale Cup and Doncaster Cup. The son of Sea The Stars is also a four-time Goodwood Cup winner.
Soft ground prevented Stradivarius from going for a fifth successive win in the Goodwood Cup this summer, but that race is also expected to be on his agenda in 2022.
Thady Gosden is delighted Stradivarius will continue his racing career for another season.
“He still loves his training and racing, and it’s exciting for everyone to have him for another year,” he told PA Media.
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Trueshan justified strong market support to record back-to-back victories in a rough race for the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot.
Winner of the Prix du Cadran just two weeks ago, Alan King’s five-year-old repeated last year’s success on home soil, with veteran stayer Stradivarius third.
His regular partner, Hollie Doyle, missed out on ParisLongchamp due to a riding ban with James Doyle deputising, but she was back in the saddle and took full advantage.
There was a muddling early pace with The Mediterranean settling down in front from Master Of Reality, with Trueshan in midfield and Stradivarius towards the rear.
While Frankie Dettori had to make his challenge wide on Stradivarius after a barging match with Baron Samedi, Doyle had Trueshan in a good position turning for home.
The evens favourite was harassed by Tashkhan, but his class prevailed and he asserted in the final furlong to beat the 50-1 outsider by a length and a half.
Stradivarius finally got a clear run, but his bid flattened out and he was two and a half lengths further away.
Trueshan was quoted at 4-1 favourite with Betfair for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot next summer.
King said: “I haven’t been this nervous for a long time.
“I was just nervous because it was only two weeks (between runs). Dan (Horsford) was very happy with him at home, but he was quite a handful to saddle today and quite hot. I don’t think he was at his best, but we’ve got away with it.
“He had to be very, very tough today. Brian’s (Ellison) horse kept coming back at him and Stradivarius has run another marvellous race the old boy.
“Hollie has ridden him most of the way through and he is her ride. It was unfortunate she had to miss France through suspension. James did a great job, but he knew Hollie would be back on board today.
“Everyone is saying I’ve been too cautious with him, but the only time I’ve taken this horse out is when it’s been proper fast ground – here at the Royal meeting when the rain came a day late, it was very quick at York and so was Doncaster. I would run him on good ground, but I won’t run him on good to firm.
“Let’s hope we get a wet Royal Ascot next year. It would be lovely to run him in the Gold Cup. We’ll duck and dive and if he keeps doing as well as he is at the moment we’ll be very happy.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve won a Grade One over jumps, so it’s nice to win a few big races on the Flat.”
Doyle said: “It’s an amazing feeling and all credit to Alan and the owners for putting me back on.
“The pressure was really on today to deliver given the great ride James gave him in France, so I’m glad it went well.
“It was a bit of a nightmare really. He jumped nicely, I got a nice position early on and he switched off – but at halfway he came to life, put the brakes on and raced rather keenly, but that’s just the way he is.
“I could feel Frankie breathing down my neck five down and I was wider than I wanted to be turning in, but I had to make my move.
“He’s so brave, to back up like he’s done today it’s just amazing.
“We’ll dream again next year, when hopefully he’ll be a stronger horse.”
Of Stradivarius, John Gosden said: “He ran a great race considering the ground. He seems fine after the race and no decision will be made on next year until next week. In other words, we want to see how the horse is in the next few days at home and he will tell us how to play it.
“I think he is more of the Federer blend in a sense. He’s not blowing, but when you look at the tactics, today and in the Gold Cup, you see that other guys are riding the race for him.
“They do go finding him in a race. One day they box him in and the next day they push him out. You look at the Ascot Gold Cup and today and other guys are riding him. I don’t want to go any further than that.
“That (retirement or stay in training as an eight-year-old) is Bjorn’s (Nielsen, owner) decision, but I will tell him how the horse is. Funnily enough the horse is a very expressive character. He will tell us.
“Today it was a great run off a horrible trip.”
Dettori was not at all happy with the ride of Dylan Browne McMonagle aboard Baron Samedi, calling it “a disgrace”.
“It was a disgrace. The kid in front of me did everything possible to get me beat,” he said.
However, Baron Samedi’s trainer Joseph O’Brien felt McMonagle did nothing wrong and put up a strong defence of his riding.
“I thought Dylan gave my horse a fantastic ride. I thought he was very tactically aware, held his position when he had to and I thought he moved at the right point,” said O’Brien.
“He gave him a great ride. It’s not up to Dylan to ride anyone else’s horse. He does his own thing and gave my horse a fantastic ride and held his ground when he had to.”
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Alan King admits only time will tell how much a slog in the Paris mud took out of both Trueshan and Stradivarius ahead of their mouthwatering rematch in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.
Trueshan will be favourite to make it back-to-back wins in the Champions Day opener, having inflicted a comprehensive defeat on legendary stayer Stradivarius in the Prix du Cadran.
The pair renew rivalry just a fortnight later – and while King has been happy with his stable star since his French triumph, he acknowledges the two-week gap is not ideal.
“We haven’t done much with him since Longchamp, but he had a little breeze on Wednesday and Dan (Horsford), who rides him every day, was happy with him,” said the Barbury Castle handler.
“We’re under no illusions, it’s only two weeks since the two of them had a hard race, but it’s Trueshan’s last race of the season, so he’s got all winter to get over it.
“We think he’s OK, but we can’t really be certain until we get on the track. We’ve tried to keep him as fresh as possible and we’ll see what happens on Saturday.”
While conditions will not be quite as demanding as they were in the Bois de Boulogne, King has no concerns regarding the going in Berkshire.
He added: “The ground will be fine. I can’t see it drying out too much. I’ve always said I’d run him on good ground, so I’m not that worried.
“We’re happy, but there is that question mark and there’s no point pretending otherwise.”
Stradivarius has dominated the staying division in recent seasons, with his illustrious CV including three Gold Cups, four Goodwood Cups, three Lonsdale Cups, two Yorkshire Cups and two Doncaster Cups.
John and Thady Gosden’s seven-year-old also won the Long Distance Cup in 2018 and was narrowly beaten by Kew Gardens in 2019, but finished a long way behind behind Trueshan 12 months ago.
John Gosden has spoken of his regret at sending his entire to Paris earlier in the month, with conditions set to be more in his favour this weekend.
“We very much wish that we hadn’t run there, as it looks as if he will get ground closer to what he wants at Ascot,” said the Clarehaven handler.
“We are not mad keen on coming back after just 14 days, but once it was clear he wasn’t handling the ground (at ParisLongchamp), Frankie (Dettori) didn’t get after him too much.”
The Tony Mullins-trained Princess Zoe is also making a quick return to action, having finished fifth behind Trueshan and Stradivarius when defending her Cadran crown.
Mullins said: “Trueshan is the one to beat. I’m hoping that we’ll be competitive with Stradivarius, who was a great champion, but he’s coming near the end of his peak.
“We’re going to give it a go. Coming back two weeks after the Cadran is a major factor – it’s a worry for Trueshan and it’s also a worry for us.
“We’re hopeful that Princess Zoe will run as well, if not better, at Ascot.”
William Haggas saddles both Hamish and Roberto Escobarr, with the former holding particularly strong claims judged on his defeat of the high-class Hukum in the September Stakes at Kempton last month.
“If you want to take the Hukum line at face value, Hamish would definitely have a chance. I don’t think we saw Hukum at his best at Kempton, but Hamish is a good horse all the same,” said Haggas.
“I believe the ground is going to be on the soft side of good, probably dead, and that will suit Hamish.
“He’s in good form, he did his last bit (on Wednesday morning) and he looks great.
“Roberto I’d have to say is better on top of the ground, so it might be a bit dead for him.
“But he’s a very genuine stayer and we’re going to put some cheekpieces on him on Saturday and a tongue-tie and hope that that can eke out a bit of improvement.
“Whether it will eke out the stone improvement he needs to be competitive, I don’t know. But he will run and we look forward to it, he looks really well.”
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Trueshan and Stradivarius will renew their rivalry at Ascot on Saturday after both stood their ground for the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.
With Trueshan missing the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and Stradivarius sidestepping the Goodwood Cup, the pair finally met for the first time this season at ParisLongchamp a fortnight ago.
And after a thrilling battle up the home straight, it was the Alan King-trained Trueshan who asserted late on to claim his second Group One success in impressive style in the Prix du Cadran.
Trueshan will be a hot favourite to make it back-to-back Long Distance Cup wins under Hollie Doyle, who returns to the saddle after missing his French success due to suspension.
John and Thady Gosden’s Stradivarius was a brave second in Paris and connections will be hoping the sounder surface will help him bridge the gap on Qipco Champions Day.
Tony Mullins’ stable star Princess Zoe, who could finish only fifth when defending her Cadran crown, is also part of the 12-strong field, as is the William Haggas-trained Hamish.
Art Power heads a maximum field of 20 runners for the Qipco British Champions Sprint.
Tim Easterby’s charge was beaten just a length into fourth place 12 months ago and returns with strong claims after a runaway victory in the Renaissance Stakes at the Curragh.
Archie Watson saddles defending champion Glen Shiel, as well as Dragon Symbol, who would certainly not be winning out of turn having gone close in a string of Group One events this season.
Creative Force (Charlie Appleby) and Minzaal (Owen Burrows) are among the other hopefuls.
Dual Classic heroine Snowfall appears to have a good opportunity to get back on the winning trail in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.
The daughter of Deep Impact was brilliant in winning the Oaks at Epsom, the Irish Oaks and the Yorkshire Oaks, but was beaten at short odds in the Prix Vermeille and could finish only sixth in the Arc.
But with Free Wind and La Petite Coco both notable absentees, Snowfall will be well fancied to secure a fourth Group One win.
Her trainer Aidan O’Brien also saddles La Joconde, with course and distance winner Albaflora (Ralph Beckett) also one of eight runners declared.
The Gosden team are responsible for the first two in the betting for the concluding Balmoral Handicap, with Frankie Dettori’s mount Sunray Major heading the market ahead of stablemate King Leonidas.
Aldaary (Haggas) and Nugget (Richard Hannon) are others to consider in a wide-open contest.
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Superstar stayer Stradivarius produced another imperious display to bag his second Doncaster Cup.
John and Thady Gosden’s seven-year-old has dominated the division in recent seasons, with his illustrious CV including three Gold Cups at Royal Ascot, four Goodwood Cups, three Lonsdale Cups and two Yorkshire Cups.
With his chief rival Trueshan missing this potential clash on account of unsuitable ground, Stradivarius was the 4-11 favourite to regain his crown on Town Moor – and the result was scarcely ever in doubt.
Given a confident ride by Frankie Dettori, the son of Sea The Stars cruised into contention in the home straight, with the popular Italian looking round for non-existent dangers as he moved alongside the front-running Nayef Road.
Once given his head, Stradivarius readily extended clear – passing the post with two and a half lengths in hand over Alerta Roja, who beat Nayef Road to the runner-up spot.
Gosden said: “He’s a wonderful horse. He’s been great at home. He’s enjoyed all his training. He loves his racing and likes coming racing.
“He’s a phenomenon.
“I had no qualms about coming here. He senses a horse coming to him and plays cat and mouse with them now.
“I couldn’t have been more thrilled with him. I’m sorry the other horse (Trueshan) didn’t run but maybe we’ll meet one day.
“He’s had a great season. He’s won three out of four. Frankie’s ride in the Gold Cup wasn’t his greatest. The winner was mighty impressive and the sad thing for me in the year is that we couldn’t run at Goodwood, because he adores Goodwood.
“His enthusiasm is there 100 per cent and I can assure everyone who loves him, the moment it’s not there he will be retired. Until that day comes, which he will tell us, he will race.”
Gosden is now considering the autumn options in France and Britain for Stradivarius.
He said: “There are two races in the autumn – the Cadran and Ascot (Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup). Ascot last year was heavy and he hated it. Those are the options. It will be one not both.
“He’ll go on summer soft but not when it goes autumn deep. He cannot take it. It was a mistake to run him in it last year and in the Arc.
“He lives a bit on the edge. He lets us know what he wants. I’ve always adored stayers and to train him is a dream come true.”
Dettori added: “That was great. It’s probably the easiest race he’s had since last year when he was here.
“He made it look easy again. He still loves his racing.”
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Frankie Dettori paid tribute to the longevity of Stradivarius ahead of his bid to win a second Doncaster Cup – four years after he finished third in the St Leger on Town Moor.
John and Thady Gosden’s chestnut won on his only other visit to South Yorkshire in this corresponding event two years ago, which was part of an incredible 10-race winning streak.
While he has perhaps not quite been at his brilliant best this year, he did return to winning ways last time out in a tremendous tussle with Spanish Mission at York. And Dettori has formed a close bond with the seven-year-old.
“I think he only does what needs to be done these days. He’s been great for the sport, I love him dearly,” said the Italian.
“He got a tremendous reception at York. He’ll probably get one at Doncaster. He’s not going to be here forever, so let’s enjoy him.
“He’s done so much for the sport. Let’s hope he does the business.
“As for tactics, I usually improvise with him. With him we have to play it by ear. Luckily, he knows where the winning post is.
“He’s been fabulous for the sport, and the reception I got at York was such a thrill. People love him, it’s great.”
The task facing Stradivarius appeared to become significantly easier when, as widely anticipated, old rival Trueshan was declared a non-runner on Friday morning because of the good to firm ground – which has not eased, despite 5mm of rain the previous evening.
Thady Gosden said: “Stradivarius is in great form at home and still loving every second of it.
“It was an unbelievable day at York, to have a fight like that. He’s been there so many times, he knows where the winning post is!
“He goes there in good form on Friday.
“He might be a bit more sensible now (than he used to be pre-race).
“But he’s been good recently. At home as well, he’s his usual self, a very flamboyant horse, he likes to let you know he’s there – and is just generally full of love and enjoyment for the game.”
With Subjectivist sidelined by injury, and Alan King’s Trueshan a late absentee, David Simcock’s improver Rodrigo Diaz has emerged as perhaps the main danger to Stradivarius.
Simcock said: “Staying was always going to be his game.
“He’s a horse who has taken a lot of time to develop and is now getting better and better with racing. The track suits him, and the trip should really suit him too. He also enjoys fast ground.
“There’s plenty between Rodrigo Diaz and Stradivarius at the weights still. But the fact that he ran so well at Newbury over a trip we felt was inadequate for him gives us hope, because we know there’s going to be improvement when he steps up in trip.
“Half of him has been sold to Australian Bloodstock, and we still have the Melbourne Cup in the back of our minds. Although it’s far from straightforward logistically, this year could be as good as any to be involved so far as the depth of the race goes. A decision will be made after Doncaster.”
With Subjectivist out of action, Mark Johnston relies on Nayef Road – who has been below form recently.
Johnston said: “Nayef Road might not have been running to his absolute best this year, but he’s not a long way short of it and he deserves to win one of these.”
Sir Mark Prescott is following a familiar route with Kirsten Rausing’s three-year-old Alerta Roja.
“Alerta Roja is wonderfully tough and she’s already exceeded what we thought was possible for her,” said Prescott.
“On the figures she doesn’t have a chance, but we did win it with Alleluia, who was very similar and was also a three-year-old filly.
“Alleluia won five, and this one, who is from the same family, has won three and been Listed placed. While ostensibly she’s got no chance, she seems in good form and she gets a lot of weight. Nothing is impossible with this family.”
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Stradivarius will face six rivals as he bids for a second Doncaster Cup win on Town Moor on Friday.
John and Thady Gosden’s charge will be making his third trip to the Yorkshire track, having won this race in 2019 and finished a close third in the 2017 St Leger on his only other visit to the venue.
Having disappointed when finishing fourth in his challenge for a fourth Gold Cup win at Ascot in June, Stradivarius returned to winning form with a narrow victory over Spanish Mission in the Lonsdale Cup at York last month.
The Grand Visir was a distant third that day and tries his luck again, while Trueshan, who was a non runner at York due to quick ground, could now get his chance to take on Stradivarius for trainer Alan King, who will be hoping all of the forecast rain materialises.
The Doncaster Cup features as part of the British Champions Series, but King reaffirmed Trueshan would not run if conditions stayed as they were on Wednesday morning, good to firm.
“We need plenty of rain. If it stays as it is he doesn’t run, but he breezed lovely this morning and he’s ready to roll if it comes. They could get five to 10 millimetres, so we’ll just wait and see,” said King.
Melbourne Cup hope Rodrigo Diaz, Nayef Road, Alerta Roja and Eagles By Day complete the line up for the Group Two heat.
The Wainwright Flying Childers Stakes is the other Group Two prize on day three of the St Leger meeting, with Richard Hannon’s Armor leading the way after winning the Molecomb and finishing fourth in the Prix Morny last time out.
George Boughey is double-handed in the 11-runner affair with Thunder Love and Corazon, who won a Group Three heat at ParisLongchamp last week.
Chipotle returns to juvenile company for Eve Johnson Houghton after tackling the Nunthorpe Stakes last time out, with Karl Burke fielding Korker along with Roses Stakes victor Attagirl.
Caturra finished second for Clive Cox in the Roses Stakes and reopposes, while Bond Chairman, Papa Don’t Preach, The Organiser and Up Above are the other contenders.
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John and Thady Gosden’s popular seven-year-old could bid for a second victory in the Town Moor showpiece, having struck gold in 2019.
He was last seen bagging his third win in the Lonsdale Cup at York last month, adding to his collection of big-race victories which includes three Gold Cups at Royal Ascot, four Goodwood Cups and two Yorkshire Cups.
Stradivarius was made to pull out all the stops by Spanish Mission on his latest appearance, coming out on top by only a head after a titanic tussle on the Knavesmire, although Andrew Balding’s charge will not renew rivalry on this occasion.
Alan King has entered Goodwood Cup winner Trueshan, while Henry de Bromhead’s mare Lismore would be a fascinating challenger. She has not been seen since winning the Henry II Stakes at Sandown in May.
Further competition comes in the shape of three strong Joseph O’Brien representatives – Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment, Master Of Reality and the prolific Baron Samedi.
David Simcock’s Rodrigo Diaz is being aimed at the Melbourne Cup after his runner-up finish in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes and could feature – as could Tony Mullins’ Gold Cup second Princess Zoe.
The main supporting race on day three of Doncaster’s St Leger Festival is the Group Two Flying Childers Stakes.
The five-furlong contest gives the opportunity for speedy juveniles to prove their worth at Group Two level and an interesting renewal looks in store, with Richard Hannon’s Prix Morny fourth Armor setting the standard.
Corazon was a Group Three winner in France during the week for George Boughey and has been given an entry, as has Chipotle by Eve Johnson Houghton. The youngster won the Brocklesby on the opening day of the season at Doncaster and had his latest start against his elders in the Nunthorpe Stakes.
Also on the card is the Listed Cazoo Flying Scotsman Stakes – won by none other than Frankel in 2010, when it was a conditions race.
Among the 16 possibles is the Richard Hannon-trained Razzle Dazzle, who impressed in victory last time out at Newmarket.
Hugo Palmer went to York’s Ebor meeting with high hopes for Dubawi Legend and he could bid to bounce back after his disappointing Acomb run.
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Flat racing has many fixed features, the racecourses remain the same, the fixture list changes only slightly, the whole travelling circus moves from track to track in an unchanged order season after season.
But the horses continually flow across the turf and off to stud in a cycle that affords us a relatively brief glimpse of the finest equine athletes before they are tasked with producing the next generation.
Bucking that trend is the beloved chestnut Stradivarius, who is in the thick of his sixth season in training having sportingly been kept in action by owner Bjorn Nielsen.
Nielsen makes up a third of the trio associated with the seven-year-old, with Frankie Dettori and John Gosden the other principal figures in the Stradivarius corner – though Gosden’s son Thady has recently been added to the Clarehaven licence.
Stradivarius’ career is one that no one has ever found good reason to end, regardless of his age and his status as an entire horse capable of becoming a sire.
He has won four Goodwood Cups, three Gold Cups, two Yorkshire Cups and now three Lonsdale Cups.
He has been beaten by a small margin and has been beaten by a longer margin and he has, without fail, dusted himself off and returned to another parade ring at another racecourse with all of the machismo of an undefeated heavyweight.
His age is not immaterial, however, and a beaten run in the Gold Cup at Ascot caused some to suspect that a changing of the guard may be afoot.
His trip to the Knavesmire, a track on which he is undefeated, was his chance to silence those suggestions and prove that there are pages yet to be turned in the Stradivarius story.
The Lonsdale Cup only attracted a field of four, with Trueshan a non-runner after the forecast rained failed to fall and produce his obligatory soft ground.
Two of those contenders were unable to trouble Stradivarius. The Grand Visir went off hard and fast but ultimately faded and Willie Mullins’ Stratum never really looked a danger.
It was Andrew Balding’s Spanish Mission that ensured the small-field affair was no walkover, throwing himself into a neck-and-neck duel with the reigning champion from the two-furlong pole to the winning post.
The naked eye could just identify Stradivarius’ white-striped face dipping across the line ahead of his opponent, and a photo finish then ensured his fist was raised by the judge and he was deemed the victor.
It was the sort of box-office finish every racing fan relishes, it was the last-gasp grit of a horse who seemed intent on proving that not only is his ability still intact, but also that his will to win is not fading in the slightest.
Dettori never attempts to conceal his emotions and this victory left the Italian at his most effusive, unsurprising perhaps considering that this partnership has been one of the defining features of the rider’s recent career.
“I just love the horse so much,” he said.
“He (Spanish Mission) passed me, I passed him, he passed me again and then on the line Stradivarius said ‘boom…I’ve won!’.
“He did it all himself, I kept him close to keep him interested as he likes to have a target, but with four runners I always knew what was going to happen.
“I had to play cat and mouse a bit with William (Buick, Spanish Mission) but when it really came down to it, he went again.
“He likes to chase one, we knew where the line was, he stuck out his neck and said ‘I’ve won this, thank you’.”
Gosden was similarly thrilled to see this stalwart of the staying division back to his brilliant best having been drawn into a tussle that required every ounce of his vim.
“Full marks to him, it was a great performance,” he said.
“He still enjoys his training, he’s very enthusiastic – a stronger-run race at his age, so he can come at them, probably suits him better.
“The horse will tell us, it’s not our decision, as long as he’s enjoying his racing and training and he’s very enthusiastic, which he is and he’s a very happy horse, he has a very good sense of humour as well, as long as you’ve got all of that then fine, we keep racing.
“The moment that seems to be fading, that’s when we stop.
“He used to sting like a butterfly and float like a bee, but he’s a little more rope a dope now!”
But the sting in the tail is evidently still present and Gosden’s willingness to discuss future entries suggests the Stradivarius era is not winding to a close just yet.
The Doncaster Cup and the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day at Ascot were both mentioned, races in which his appearance is likely to inspire the same rousing reception he enjoyed on the Knavesmire.
He may be ageing and he cannot rule the division forever, but Stradivarius remains the Goliath that nobody wants to see fall at the hands of David.
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Stradivarius became the first horse to win the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup three times when edging out Spanish Mission in a tremendous finish at York.
Five other top stayers, including Further Flight and Persian Punch, had won the race twice – and Stradivarius showed the fire still burns bright with a battling performance under his regular pilot Frankie Dettori.
Spanish Mission and William Buick made the John and Thady Gosden-trained seven-year-old fight all the way and was narrowly in front at one stage, only for Stradivarius to find that little bit extra in the dying strides to win by a head.
The paid had the Group Two stamina test to themselves after The Grand Visir had taken the four-runners into the long straight.
Stradivarius (4-6 favourite) knuckled down when it looked as though Spanish Mission might lower his colours to record his 18th victory.
Dettori and Stradivarius paraded in front of the packed stands and were given a tremendous reception all the way back to the winner’s enclosure, where the jockey gave his trademark flying dismount.
The Italian said: “When we went across the line and they announced the result there was a big roar from the crowd, an explosion.
“I love the horse so much. He’s not getting any younger, it was always going to be a messy race and I was using Richard (Kingscote on The Grand Visir) as a reference point, but when William came I had to go straight for home.
“He only does enough when he hits the front and William wouldn’t go away! He passed me, I passed him back then he passed me again – but I think he knows where the line is as he popped his head out just in time!
“My heart lost a few beats, I’ll be honest, but it was a tremendous horse race and the reception he got was special.”
He went on: “I didn’t want to kick too early, but I didn’t want to get jumped on either. Strad is a horse who likes a target and unfortunately we didn’t have it, so I pushed Strad close to William to make him race.
“Every time he’s run here I think he’s run below par. I feel he’s much better at Ascot, but we got the job done so I won’t criticise him.
“John, Rab (Havlin) – the whole team have done a great job with him, he’s a joy to have as he’s such a character. I’m feeling emotional.”
Gosden senior said: “It was always going to be a fascinating race, Spanish Mission put it up to him and Frankie said he was headed, then he got back and then he was headed again and he got back – it was a proper race for everyone to watch.
“He’s phenomenal, to have won four Goodwood Cups, three Gold Cups, three Lonsdales now, three Yorkshire Cups, a Doncaster Cup – all those miles of racing, never mind miles of training.
“Full marks to him, a great performance and we’ll see what we want to do next.
“He still enjoys his training, he’s very enthusiastic, a stronger-run race at his age, so he can come at them, probably suits him better.
“The horse will tell us, it’s not our decision, as long as he’s enjoying his racing and training and he’s very enthusiastic, which he is and he’s a very happy horse, he has a very good sense of humour as well – as long as you’ve got all of that then fine, we keep racing.
“The moment that seems to be fading that’s when we stop.”
Reflecting on the finish, he added: “I was just waiting for the photo finish, I’ve got it wrong before so I’ve learned to just wait.
“His enthusiasm is perfect, he won the Sagaro and if Frankie could ride the Ascot Gold Cup again he’d ride it differently, he sat too far back and he got in trouble.
“I’m not saying for one moment he’d beat the winner (Subjectivist), but my God he’d have given him a good race.
“He loves Goodwood, he loves the twists, but then there was 60 millimetres of rain the night before so that, to me, was the biggest disappointment.
“He was headed, he came back, he was headed again and he came back – that to me shows a lot of willingness.
“He’s not a horse you train, I let him train himself. If you get a great player, a great footballer and they come to your club, if you start thinking when they’re 30 or 32 that you’re going to start drilling them, they’ll tell you what to do with your management.
“It’s the same, you play with him and let him train the way he wants to.”
On immediate plans, Gosden said: “The Doncaster Cup is a possibility and there is Champions Day, I hope it’s decent ground but if it’s bottomless we might have to reroute.”
Anna Lisa Balding, assistant trainer to her husband Andrew, was proud of the runner-up.
She said: “He’s run a hell of a race and I actually thought we’d won when he went ahead. I thought we’d got him, but we didn’t.
“Someone just said to me to have a good race you need two good horses and he had it everywhere bar the line.
“We’ll stick to Plan A, Australia here we come (for the Melbourne Cup) and let’s hope he does his stuff out there.
“It will mean two weeks in a hotel probably so I’m not sure who’ll be putting their hand up for that trip!”
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Stradivarius bids to prove the fire still burns bright by bagging a third victory in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York.
Having been beaten on four of his last five starts, the great stayer has lost the aura of invincibility he had a couple of seasons ago, but trainer John Gosden is confident he retains plenty of enthusiasm for racing.
As well as having three Gold Cups, four Goodwood Cups, a couple of Yorkshire Cups and a Doncaster Cup in the bag, Stradivarius landed successive renewals of the Lonsdale in 2018 and 2019 – victories which saw him plunder the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million.
While that lucrative bonus is no longer on offer, the seven-year-old will undoubtedly bring the house down if he can make it five from five on the Knavesmire under Frankie Dettori on Friday.
“We’re going to York, a track he knows well, on ground he likes,” said Gosden.
“He’s in great form. We’re very aware that he’s not as young as he used to be, but then neither is the trainer or the jockey!
“If he runs well then I’m happy to have a look at the Doncaster Cup, then you can see how you want to play it.
“He’s still enjoying his training, is enthusiastic as ever, but I’m taking it one race at a time.”
Stradivarius has been off the track since finishing fourth in his bid for another Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June, having since missed Goodwood on account of unsuitable ground.
Alan King’s proven mud lover Trueshan, on the other hand, sidestepped the Gold Cup before providing his trainer with a first top-level success on the Flat in the Goodwood Cup.
The five-year-old would have carried a 3lb penalty for that success, but of more concern for King was the drying ground and with rain failing to materialise the decision was ultimately made to take him out.
Spanish Mission won the Yorkshire Cup in May before finishing third in the Gold Cup and missing Goodwood.
Andrew Balding is hoping the rain stays away ahead of his bid for glory in another Qipco British Champions Series contest.
“The weather forecast looks good for Spanish Mission if the rain holds off, and he’s in good form,” said the Kingsclere handler.
“Obviously Stradivarius and Trueshan are tough opponents, but Spanish Mission was good in the Yorkshire Cup and a bit of course form helps.
“This has been the intention for a while and hopefully he’ll run well.”
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Owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen is in bullish mood ahead of Stradivarius’ bid for a third victory in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York next week.
With three Gold Cups at Royal Ascot, four Goodwood Cups, back-to-back wins in both the Yorkshire Cup and the Lonsdale 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.
However, John and Thady Gosden’s charge will return to the Knavesmire with a point to prove on Friday week following four defeats in his last five starts, most recently finishing fourth when seeking to claim a fourth Gold Cup in June.
Connections decided against challenging for a fifth Goodwood Cup win last month due to the prevailing testing conditions on the Sussex Downs, but Nielsen is confident he can get back on the winning trail at York, where he is unbeaten in four starts.
Stradivarius plundered the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million with victory in the Lonsdale in both 2018 and 2019, but the bonus has since been discontinued.
Nielsen said: “The bonus no longer being there makes the Lonsdale slightly different this year, but in my mind I don’t think it’s a question of other horses beating him. He’s seven now, but as long as he’s still got it he’s going to win.
“York is the one place we’ve always had the good, or good to firm ground Stradivarius prefers and he’s never been beaten there.
“The day he’s beaten when he has his conditions then that will probably be it, but from what I hear he’s still full of it.
“Frankie (Dettori) and John (Gosden) have both told me how well he’s working, so I hope it lasts a few more races.”
Nielsen revealed talks are ongoing with several breeding operations ahead of a future career at stud for Stradivarius, but at the moment he is fully focussed on what is left of his glittering racing journey.
He added: “We’d have loved to have gone for that fifth Goodwood Cup and in previous years we might have run him, as it was heavy summer going – but at this stage of his career, we just don’t want to do it.
“He’s still got that enthusiasm, and we don’t want to spoil it. As long as he’s got it he’ll perform, but as soon as it’s gone then his time is up, so why ask him to do things he doesn’t enjoy?
“There is interest from two or three studs in England, and foreign interest as well, and when his time comes he can hopefully pass his qualities as a racehorse.
“I’d obviously prefer him to stay here, but the key thing is that I want him to have the best chance possible to cover Flat mares. I don’t want him going straight down the jumps’ stallion route, as a lot of mile-and-a-half plus horses have done in recent years.”
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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.
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.
“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.”
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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.
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.”
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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.
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 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.
“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.”
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