Stradivarius (IRE) is the reigning Stayer of the Year in the UK and after back to back victories in the £500,000 G1 Gold Cup (4014m) on soft ground at Royal Ascot last Thursday, he seems unlikely to relinquish his crown any time soon. The dramatic victory by the five-year-old Sea The Stars (IRE) entire, trained by John Gosden, was also the fourth consecutive victory on the card for jockey Frankie Dettori, who famously won all seven races on the card at Ascot in September 1996.
On the rain-soaked course, Dettori chose the shortest way home, keeping Stradivarius on the rail and tucked in behind front runners Dee Ex Bee (GB) and Master Of Reality (IRE). In the home straight it appeared as if Dettori had made a costly mistake with Donnacha O’Brien on Capri and Cross Counter under James Doyle moving up on his outside, effectively shutting the door on the even money favourite. Dettori however, who has now ridden 66 winners at the Royal meeting, was unperturbed and when a small gap opened during the closing stages, he was quick to send Stradivarius through and after the leaders.
The horse, who apparently “loves getting into a fight” according to Dettori, wasted no time in catching and passing the longtime leaders, to win by a length with Dee Ex Bee in second and Master Of Reality back in third. It was Stradivarius’s seventh straight victory for owner/breeder Bjorn Nielsen, who was on hand to collect the Gold Cup trophy from Her Majesty The Queen. Nielsen admitted that he was a bit concerned after Dettori’s victory in the first three on the card. “I did not believe he could win four races in a row, but he’s riding so confidently, and he rode Stradivarius confidently. He’s such a good stayer, he has a huge heart, and his mind is so relaxed. I hope it can continue for a while.”
A delighted Dettori, who launched himself skywards in his famous flying dismount, was full of praise for the gutsy stayer. “Stradivarius does not know how to lose. All I have to do is get him amongst other horses and he does the rest – what a horse. Everyone loves him, including me. Every time he runs, he delivers, he is unbelievable. I wasn’t worried about the trouble in the home straight as I just had to wait for the split. It got tight, but when I got the split, it was all over.”
Interestingly, the dam of Stradivarius, Private Life (FR) only produced one filly before her untimely death and that filly, an Oratorio daughter named Magical Eve (IRE), resides at Ridgemont Highlands Stud in Robertson. According to the Stud, Magical Eve currently has a lovely weanling filly by Silvano (GER).
By Liesl King