Stradivarius hits all right notes again - and makes Goodwood history

Stradivarius on the way to a place in the Goodwood history books / Picture: Alan Crowhurst, Getty Images
Stradivarius on the way to a place in the Goodwood history books / Picture: Alan Crowhurst, Getty Images

He's done it. And did anyone ever really doubt that he would? Stradivarius made Goodwood history by becoming the first horse ever to win three successive renewals of the Goodwood Cup.

Not only that,he did it comfortably, beating Mark Johnston's Dee Ex Bee by a length and a quarter to justify his 4/5 favouritism.

Ironically it was the John Gosden-trained Stradivarius who only two years ago spoiled the party in denying Big Orange a Goodwood Cup treble. Now he has done it himself, earning a place in the record books with a feat that will be talked about for years to come.

The crowd cheered Stradivarius and his jockey Frankie Dettori down to the start and they raised the roof when he came back into the winner's enclosure, Dettori putting up three fingers and pointing to the star of the show.

And the appreciative racegoers cheered some more when Stradivarius was led away from the packed arena.

The superstar stayer extended his unbeaten sequence to eight wins with a vintage display in the two-mile contest.

The five-year-old travelled powerfully into contention in the home straight and displayed his customary turn of foot to win eased down by a neck from Dee Ex Bee (11/2).

Stradivarius' illustrious win record now features three Qatar Goodwood Cups, two Gold Cups, two Yorkshire Cups, a Lonsdale Cup and a QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup success. He will win the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers' Million Bonus for the second year running if he lands the G2 Lonsdale Cup at York's Ebor meeting next month.

Gosden said: "Stradivarius is a gorgeous horse. He followed Cross Counter and that is proper horse. Frankie followed the right horse, pounced at the right time, timed it beautifully and then overdid the waving at the crowd.

"I was not comfortable where he was early on in the race, but from halfway I was happy with his position. We discussed what we thought would happen in the race and then you leave Frankie alone to decide during the race.

"Stradivarius has won his race and then our great hero started waving to the crowd. I must say that is a little dangerous because Stradivarius is a pro and when you say 'well that's enough', he says 'OK, I'll put the brakes on' and it was lucky Frankie didn't go over the handle bars I thought!

"It is great to emulate Double Trigger who was a great horse of Mark Johnston's. Stradivarius is a little street fighter and he just puts it in when he has to. That is the great thing about this horse.

"He was in the yard roaring like a bull at 5.15am this morning telling everyone that he was ready. We were all thrilled with that and he is just a real pro.

"He is a very unique horse. They are not meant to have four white socks and a white face and be on the neat side. I would never call him small, he's neat.

"Stradivarius knows how to win. We never overwork him at home and always let him do what he enjoys doing. He is just a grand horse and it is wonderful to have a horse like him win three Goodwood Cups.

"Bjorn Nielsen bred him, owns him, and I think to him that is profoundly fulfilling to him to have bred the horse. We are lucky to have horse like this in the stable. We have fantastic staff, whether it be assistants, riders, yard people, head people.

Dettori was humming with excited relief after the historic victory. Dettori laughed when he said: "It's not good for the heart - after winning the King George on Saturday [on Enable] and now this on the two most popular and precious horses in training, and with the following of people they both have.

"I had the perfect race, and followed the one I thought would be the biggest threat [Cross Counter]. He took me into the race, and it was great to be behind him, otherwise I would have had to make my move earlier. As always, my horse showed he is a stayer with a turn of foot. He passed the others very easily, but when he got to the front and had the race won I probably celebrated a stride too early. Everyone is panicking, but I've been here before and know where the winning post is.

"He's an amazing horse who wastes very little energy, is mentally tough and is never going to be flash and win by ten lengths, but he gets the job done. All I have to do is put him in the race and he does the rest. He's a perfect partner.

"It's important for the public to have a horse who stays in training for so long and keeps delivering and with Stradivarius you know what you are going to get - a fight. Which is why people love him. It's nerve-wracking and exciting, but I work for a great trainer in John Gosden, who puts it on a plate for me. He and the staff should have all the credit."