Stradivarius seeks to hit another high note in Long Distance Cup
15 Oct 2018
The star stayer of 2018 bids to remain unbeaten this season in final outing on QIPCO British Champions Day
The four-year-old’s successive wins in the Mansionbet Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup, Qatar Goodwood Cup and Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup – all of them QIPCO British Champions Series races – earned his connections a £1 million bonus offered by Weatherbys Hamilton.
Bred and owned by Bjorn Nielsen, Stradivarius was a close third in the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup last year and is unbeaten since.
If Stradivarius caps a perfect campaign then the John Gosden-trained colt will become only the second horse to have won five races that fall under the QIPCO British Champions Series umbrella in the same season. The mighty Frankel achieved the feat in 2012.
Gosden could also call on the services of Weekender.
Irish-trained challengers have won six of the previous eight runnings and are strongly represented Aidan O’Brien and Willie Mullins.
As expected, O’Brien’s Flag Of Honour, winner of the Comer Group International Irish St Leger, has been supplemented. He has thrived since being upped in distance and on his latest start made all for Classic glory at the Curragh.
O’Brien has four other entries to juggle, including Kew Gardens and Capri, the past two winners of the William Hill St Leger.
Thomas Hobson, the smooth Doncaster Cup winner, is set to represent Mullins, while Desert Skyline, winner of the Doncaster Cup last year, and Mount Moriah, a gallant fourth in the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup 12 months ago, are also on course to run.
WHAT THEY SAY:
John Gosden, the trainer of Stradivarius
“He’s in tremendous form and really benefited from having had a bit of time off. I’m absolutely thrilled with him. It was publicised that he and Cracksman worked together recently and this will be final race of the year.
“He’s best on top of the ground but he handles soft.
“I think his win in the Gold Cup [was the most satisfying moment of my year]. He’s a diminutive horse and the fact he gave everything, pulled a shoe off and rammed it into his foot in the last furlong and still won was a pretty remarkable achievement. He’s all heart.
“Winning those four staying races has not happened before and might not happen again. With his four white socks and white face, everyone says he should be giving pony rides around Brighton seafront. His achievements have been fantastic.”
David Elsworth, the trainer of Desert Skyline
“As a three-year-old he ran to a good level and he had a couple of nice runs early on in the season but then we lost our way with him a bit. We were hoping to win the Ascot Gold Cup but he ran terrible and nothing ever came to light.
“He ran better in the Goodwood Cup, then better again at York and last time was only beaten four lengths in a Group Three at Newbury that was only over a mile and three, so hopefully we are back in business. He’s never actually performed well at Ascot for some reason, but you can always make excuses.
“We are probably struggling to beat Stradivarius but we will give it a go.”
Ralph Beckett, the trainer of Mount Moriah
“He had a problem after [Royal] Ascot with a splint and we had to give him some time off, but he’s been training well and we are in good shape.
“He ran really well last year and for a moment I thought he was going to put it up to them about two furlongs out. It was a good run as a three-year-old – he’s a year older now and hardier. He should run his race but he needs the rain.”
10 QIPCO Long Distance Cup entries
Capri (IRE) Desert Skyline (IRE) Mount Moriah (GB) Stradivarius (IRE) Thomas Hobson (GB) Weekender (GB) Cypress Creek (IRE) Flag of Honour (IRE) Kew Gardens (IRE) Sir Erec (IRE