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Gold Cup: What the trainers say

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History beckons for Stradivarius as he chases not only a fourth Gold Cup at Royal Ascot but a fifth successive victory at Flat racing’s showpiece meeting.

As a three-year-old Stradivarius won the Queen’s Vase back in 2017 – and that Group Two only hinted at the success-laden career that lay in wait for him.

He immediately took on his elders in the Goodwood Cup, making use of the weight allowance and while a Classic success in the St Leger eluded him by half a length, his four-year-old career was a perfect one.

A Yorkshire Cup, a first Gold Cup, another Goodwood win and a Lonsdale Cup preceded a victory on Champions Day and only a nose defeat to Kew Gardens in the corresponding race 12 months later prevented him from going two seasons unbeaten.

Last year connections experimented with his trip with the intention of running in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and while that did not come off, he showed he was as good as ever on his return in the Sagaro Stakes.

“He seems to love his training still, he still seems to love his racing,” said John Gosden.

“He can be very naughtily behaved beforehand and think he’s in the covering shed – not at the racecourse – but when it comes to the race and he gets down to the start, he can look at a mare and think ‘OK, I’ve a job to do’.

“He worked on the July Course last week and I was very happy with him. Touch wood, we’re ready to go again.”

Stradivarius would join Yeats as the only other horse to have won four Gold Cups, and Gosden believes his first was his stiffest task when beating Vazirabad, Torcedor and Order Of St George.

“He has been remarkable. He has this exciting turn of foot,” said Gosden.

“I think the toughest race of his life was his first Gold Cup against the great French stayer (Vazirabad), but overall I think his record stands up.

“His win in the Sagaro was tidy, pleasant, he (Frankie Dettori) didn’t ask him too much so let’s hope he’s ready for the big one again.

“I’d like to get through Thursday before deciding what next. I know where he (owner Bjorn Nielsen) would like to run, but there’s nothing wrong with five Goodwood Cups is there!”

He did have one word of caution, however – the weather.

He said: “I fear one thing for Stradivarius – thunderstorms – because he has this wonderful turn of foot after two and a half miles but the wet ground, soft ground, blunts it, so we’ll see how we go.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for the new boy on the block, Subjectivist, and a lot of respect for Alan King’s horse (Trueshan), although he would prefer a downpour. There’s no doubt Subjectivist adds a lot of spice to the race.”

Subjectivist is certainly the new kid on the staying block. His trainer Mark Johnston has thrown the likes of Dee Ex Bee, Nayef Road and other good stayers at Stradivarius in recent years, all to no avail.

However, Johnston believes the four-year-old is his best chance chance of downing Gosden’s stayer given the way he won the Prix Royal-Oak in France and the Dubai Gold Cup last time out.

“He did have an injury in that Dubai race. It’s taken him a little while to come back from that and as a result we haven’t had any race in between,” said Johnston, who revealed his colt also had a fall at home recently but escaped injury.

“I think this is the best horse I’ve gone to war with Stradivarius with. We know what a tall order that is – we’ve finished second to him so many times before.

“I won’t be looking at tactics to beat Stradivarius, we’ve just got to hope that we’ve got the best horse on the day.”

Nayef Road is back for more, in a race which forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series.

“Nayef Road is going to Ascot on the back of two disappointing performances, but while his second in the Gold Cup last year was with cut in the ground, we had previously always thought he was better on fast ground,” said Johnston.

“We are hopeful that on better ground we’ll see him back to his best, although there’s obviously some rain forecast on Thursday so we have to be prepared for that.”

Alan King’s Trueshan had Stradivarius a long way behind him when winning on Champions Day – but conditions were testing then and the Barbury Castle trainer has stated plenty of rain will need to fall for him to run.

King said: “He’s been declared, but we are very reliant on thunderstorms hitting Ascot. He’s in great nick and I couldn’t be happier with him, but if it doesn’t rain he doesn’t run. It will have to go to good, or good to soft.”

Aidan O’Brien, who trained Yeats, threw a curve ball last week when supplementing last year’s surprise Derby winner Serpentine.

Winless since his incredible Epsom display, in which he made every yard of the running, he had an unusual prep for a two-and-a-half-mile marathon by running in the Tattersalls Gold Cup over an extended 10 furlongs.

“Obviously we won’t know if he stays the trip until he runs over it, but we always thought he’d stay further than a mile and a half,” said O’Brien.

“He seems to be in good form at home, he’s had a run this season and we’re hoping he’ll run well.”

The Ballydoyle handler also runs Santiago, who won the Queen’s Vase at the meeting last year before going on to glory in the Irish Derby.

“Santiago is in good form and this has always been the plan for him. He’s had his two runs already this season and we’ve been happy with him since his last run at York,” said O’Brien.

Andrew Balding’s Yorkshire Cup winner Spanish Mission is another with a live chance.

“I’m really pleased with Spanish Mission. I thought it was a really good effort at York, but he faces some mighty opponents here in the likes of Stradivarius, Subjectivist, and Santiago, not to mention Serpentine, who I wasn’t expecting,” said Balding.

“It’s a really intriguing race, as a Gold Cup should be, but Spanish Mission is in great form. It’s another two furlongs further than the Doncaster Cup, which he won last year, but I’d be hopeful that he’ll stay.”

 
 

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Free Daily Race Pass (Result)

GOODWOOD 15:35

Thursday 29 July
2. LADY BOWTHORPE 1st
Kieran Shoemark silk Kieran Shoemark
William Jarvis
6. ZEYAADAH (IRE) 2nd
Jim Crowley silk Jim Crowley
Roger Varian
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LATEST HORSE RACING RESULTS

20:55 NEWCASTLE

1st Daniel Muscutt silk 5. PEARL BEACH 20/121
2nd Jack Mitchell silk ½ 2. LYDFORD 7/18
3rd Robert Havlin silk nk 4. MARSHALL PLAN 6/42.5f
All 12 ran.
FULL RESULT

20:35 EPSOM DOWNS

1st Jason Hart silk 5. BOWLAND PARK 5/16
2nd William Cox silk sh 2. NEWTON JACK 5/16
3rd Tyler Heard silk ½ 10. PRINCE ROCK (IRE) 14/115
J: Jason Hart  
10 ran. NRs: 4 
FULL RESULT

20:25 NEWCASTLE

1st Hayley Turner silk 10. ROSCIOLI 28/129
2nd Luke Morris silk nk 9. JEBEL DUKHAN (IRE) 5/23.5f
3rd Pat Cosgrave silk 1 4. FAME N FORTUNE 10/111
All 12 ran.
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20:15 GALWAY

1st Mr N. McParlan silk 11. MR SAXOBEAT (IRE) 5/16
2nd Mr M. McGuane silk 17. WATERGRANGE JACK (IRE) 40/141
3rd Mr B. O'Neill silk 6. GOLDEN DE COEUR (FR) 28/129
J: Mr N. McParlan (3)  
All 17 ran.
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20:05 EPSOM DOWNS

1st Harry Burns silk 1. ARTHUR'S VICTORY (IRE) 7/24.5
2nd Darragh Keenan silk ½ 7. APACHE JEWEL (IRE) 4/15
J: Harry Burns (5)  
T: Joseph Parr  
6 ran. NRs: 3  8 
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19:55 NEWCASTLE

1st Jack Mitchell silk 4. BONNEVAL 13/82.62f
2nd Robert Havlin silk ¾ 1. TENBURY WELLS (USA) 9/25.5
3rd Saffie Osborne silk ¾ 10. MENAI BRIDGE 9/110
10 ran. NRs: 5 
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19:45 GALWAY

1st D. G. Hogan silk 1. MACGILONEY (IRE) 16/117
2nd M. P. O'Connor silk hd 3. BLACKSTAIR ROCCO (IRE) 3/14f
3rd Sean Flanagan silk sh 12. MINDSMADEUP (IRE) 22/123
4th J. S. McGarvey silk ¾ 11. HEWICK (IRE) 11/112
J: D. G. Hogan  
19 ran. NRs: 19  21  22  23 
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1st Daniel Tudhope silk 5. IMPROVISED (IRE) 5/23.5
2nd Jason Hart silk 3. POET'S MAGIC 9/43.25f
7 ran. NRs: 8 
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19:25 NEWCASTLE

1st Laura Pearson silk 12. ECHO BEACH 5/16
2nd Marco Ghiani silk 7. EAGLE CREEK (IRE) 16/117
3rd Luke Morris silk ns 4. ROYAL PLEASURE (IRE) 4/15jf
J: Laura Pearson (5)  
T: Hugo Palmer  
All 12 ran.
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