Champions Series Stars back for more: Stradivarius
22 Feb 2019
History will be against the outstanding stayer when he seeks to repeat his exploits of last year
Stradivarius and his owner, Bjorn Nielsen, after the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. Picture: Racingfotos.com
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Stradivarius stamped himself as the champion stayer last year and it will be no surprise if his connections have a replica campaign in mind for him.
Why wouldn’t they? Last year Weatherbys Hamilton offered a £1 million bonus to any horse who won one of three qualifying races in addition to the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, Qatar Goodwood Cup and Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup.
The firm has pledged to repeat the bonus this year but insuring against it again being achieved is unlikely to be quite so easy!
Assuming the qualifying races are the same, John Gosden and owner Bjorn Nielsen will be able to choose between the Sagaro Stakes (at Ascot on May 1), Mansionbet Yorkshire Cup (at York on May 17) and Henry II Stakes (at Sandown on May 23) as Stradivarius’s first port of call.
He will have a penalty to carry to carry whichever he chooses but the Yorkshire Cup looks the most likely, if only because Stradivarius was so impressive when cruising home in it last year. On the minus side, Ardross (1981-82) is the only dual winner of the race.
You do not need to be a rocket scientist to know the next two races for Stradivarius, barring misfortune, will be the Gold Cup, at Royal Ascot on June 20, and then Qatar Goodwood Cup on July 30.
The last horse to win back-to-back Gold Cups was Yeats (2006-2007) and he went on to win it four times.
Should Stradivarius win the Goodwood Cup for the third year in succession he will create history. Double Trigger is a triple winner of the race, but his sequence of wins was interrupted.
The Lonsdale Cup? Five horses have won it twice, the last being Opinion Poll (2010 and 2011).
Stradivarius capped his flawless campaign last year with victory in the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions Day. Again, it looks a logical place for him to sign off for the year, although no horse has won the race twice.
If those closest to him wanted to squeeze in an extra race then the Doncaster Cup is available to them on September 13.
Incidentally, Stradivarius won five Champions Series last term – a feat only previously managed by the mighty Frankel. The latter ended with nine Series wins to his name; Stradivarius needs three more to match him.
FANTASY RACING: A POSSIBLE STRADIVARIUS CAMPAIGN