Next month at Royal Ascot, the record books could be reopened, as Stradivarius, trained by John Gosden will be vying for a fourth win in the Group 1 Gold Cup. We could well see the Irish-bred horse join Yeats as the most successful horse in the race’s history – not only winning four races, but in successive years too.
The seven-year-old, usually ridden by Frankie Dettori is the overwhelming favourite in the latest Royal Ascot odds – and you can’t look beyond the duo, especially given the performance in last month’s Sagaro Stakes, again at Ascot.
Questions had been asked of Stradivarius’ form since he secured back-to-back wins in the Gold Cup, and then the Goodwood Cup Stakes. After being narrowly beaten by a short-neck in the Prix Foy, he came up short in the l’Arc de Triomphe, with Oliver Peslier in the saddle, and then encountered issues on British Champions Day. With the ground at Ascot described as soft, Stradivarius became stuck in the mud and eventually finished 12th out of a field of 13 in the Long Distance Cup.
But both Stradivarius and Dettori answered the critics in emphatic fashion in the Sagaro Stakes, which acts as the trial for the Gold Cup. A first-time appearance in the race, as Gosden usually enters his super seven-year-old in the Yorkshire Cup, before going straight to Ascot. Dettori summed up the moment perfectly as he dismounted:
“When Yeats won four Gold Cups you thought no one would ever get near it and now the dream is still alive.”
Gosden was also suitably impressed with the undoubted star of the British staying division:
“The old horse has his enthusiasm still,” he said, before continuing:
“As long as Stradivarius trains well between now and the Gold Cup, there’s no reason why he won’t put up one of his vintage performances.”
And as all roads point to the Gold Cup on June 17th, it’s likely that Stradivarius won’t get another run until then. In previous years, the chestnut has raced just once before going to the feature race on day three of Royal Ascot.
It was last year, bagging that hat-trick of wins that Stradivarius romped to victory by a margin of 10 lengths, over Nayef Road. In doing so, he joined an elite list and became the first horse, after Sagaro and Yeats to win three successive Gold Cups.
While the Mark Johnston-trained Nayef Road will be entered into the Ascot centrepiece, the market odds of 20/1 suggest he won’t be a contender this year. Instead, it’s another from Johnston’s yard that Stradivarius will have to do battle with. The current second-favourite, Subjectivist, was a recent winner at the Dubai Gold Cup, and the four-year-old also landed a Group 1 last season in the Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp.
It’s set to be a thrilling encounter, and regardless of whether Stradivarius can equal Yeats’ record, Gosden’s star stayer has had a glittering career to date. With that trio of Gold Cups and a record four Goodwood Cups, the wonderful records of Stradivarius will be talked about for years to come.