Stradivarius is chasing a remarkable fifth consecutive win at Royal Ascot next week – with a record-equalling fourth Gold Cup in his sights.
The leading light among John and Thady Gosden’s stellar team of older horses, if the seven-year-old prevails again on Thursday, he will join Yeats as the most successful in the history of the feature race of the meeting.
Stradivarius showed his enduring capabilities, despite his relative advancing years, when winning the Sagaro Stakes on his return to action at the end of April.
“It would be extraordinary (if he won again) but is even more so because he’s a full horse,” said Gosden.
“He’s not a gelding, and they seem to be able to race on a lot longer without the distractions of life.”
Gosden has never made any secret that Stradivarius is full of life, and he has shown no signs of settling down.
“This boy is an absolute riot to be around – he’s very entertaining and has a great personality,” the Newmarket trainer added.
“I tend to just let him enjoy himself – and as long as he is, that’s all the matters.”
“You have to get him out early in the morning or he complains – he likes to be first out. When he sees the other strings he shouts and roars – he particularly seems to like the blue of Godolphin, which causes him to shout even more.
“He came off the Limekilns the other day, and Frankie (Dettori) said there were horses everywhere, which caused him to shout even more because he didn’t know which one to cover – he’s like that, that’s his nature. Then he comes back, eats his grub and goes to sleep.
“He has an incredible personality, but I think if you had to take a world tour with him there’s a strong likelihood that in the end you’d be asking him to shut up – but that’s his nature. He’s incredibly fun to be around and is like part of the family now.”
At the end of last season Stradivarius was dropped in trip for a crack at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but very soft ground scuppered his hopes.
“I have nothing but respect for Bjorn (Nielsen, owner) for the way he has campaigned him. He’s tried to breed a Derby horse and ended up with a wonderful Cup horse,” said Gosden.
“Frankie gave him a little canter this morning, and it all went smoothly.
“He’s won four Goodwood Cups, Doncaster Cups, Yorkshire Cups, Lonsdale Cups. They put up a £1million bonus two years running, thinking no one would do it, and he knocked it off both years and finished the insurance company off!
“It was only when we ran him stupidly in bottomless ground last back-end at Longchamp and Ascot – which was our mistake – (has he disappointed). Luckily we realised we were idiots, and he carried on this year, but we didn’t serve him well last year.”
The royal meeting could start with a bang for Gosden, because Palace Pier is long odds-on for the opening Queen Anne Stakes following an impressive display in the Lockinge..
“He’s a lovely horse and has done everything right in his life,” he said.
“He only missed the autumn of his two-year-old career – then we were planning the Greenham last year, but naturally it didn’t take place with lockdown.
“He prepped in a Newcastle race – I wasn’t going to run him blind in a Guineas, because he hadn’t had the racing, but he then came out and won the St James’s Palace.
“It’s been a strange spring. It was incredibly cold, then incredibly wet. So it’s been eccentric, (and) finally we’re getting summer ground for Ascot – which is fantastic.”
In the St James’s Palace Stakes this year Gosden runs the unbeaten Mostahdaf, who came out on top of Highland Avenue in a good battle in the Heron Stakes.
“I still think Highland Avenue is a major player in this race,” he said.
“You’ve got the boys who’ve been through the Guineas. and some of them had a tough time. Never underestimate Jim Bolger, and he could pull it off with Poetic Flare, and a horse like Battleground could come back into play with a change in the ground.
“The change in ground will make a difference. Overall, it looks a good edition of the race.”
Lord North is Gosden’s other major contender next week, in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, another of the Qipco British Champions Series contests, following his imperious display in the Dubai Turf last time out.
Gosden said: “He’s a great character – he’s in good form, but I think it’s a fascinating race. I’m not sure William’s (Haggas) lovely horse, who won in Australia (Addeybb), will come with how the ground is – but there’s Love, who could come over, and she’s been waiting for this ground.
“So she may turn up and make it a fascinating race. I also like Armory a lot – it’s a nice edition, one of those small but select fields.”
One unlikely to run, however, is Indigo Girl in the Coronation Stakes – who appears set to head to France instead.
“I’ve been slightly aiming at the Prix de Diane with her all along,” said Gosden.
“I’ll be talking to Mr (George) Strawbridge, her owner, and I think it is most likely that we’ll stick to that plan at the moment, rather than rolling her straight back against the Guineas fillies.”
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