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Kew Gardens pips Stradivarius by nose in Cup classic

19 Oct 2019

The Long Distance Cup on QIPCO British Champions Day proved an absolute thriller

Kew Gardens, left, and Stradivarius served up a thriller. Picture:

Stradivarius suffered his first defeat in almost two years as Kew Gardens came on top in a pulsating Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.

The remarkable Stradivarius has completely dominated the staying division over the past couple of seasons – with back-to-back wins in the Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup.

Having added the Doncaster Cup to his glittering CV last month, John Gosden’s popular chestnut was the 8-13 market leader to stretch his unbeaten run to 11 and win a record sixth QIPCO British Champions Series race in the course of a season.

Everything appeared to be going according to plan for the market leader for much of the two-mile journey, with Frankie Dettori seemingly content to bide his time as Withhold and Kew Gardens’ stablemate Capri forced the pace.

Aidan O’Brien’s Kew Gardens – winner of the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot, the Grand Prix de Paris and the St Leger at Doncaster last season and runner-up spot in the Ormonde Stakes, the Coronation Cup and the Irish Leger so far this term – was the 7-2 second-favourite in the hands of the trainer’s son, Donnacha, and travelled strongly to the lead soon after the turn for home.

Dettori swiftly went in pursuit and Stradivarius looked set to emerge triumphant after ranging alongside and even poking his head in front racing inside the final furlong.

However, Kew Gardens refused to yield and after a thrilling duel, the pair passed the post almost as one before the judged confirmed the Ballydoyle inmate the winner by a nose, giving the successful rider his first career victory on Champions Day. Gosden’s second string Royal Line was five lengths away in third.

O’Brien said: “We were training him for the Gold Cup and he got an injury and it all went pear-shaped so we’re just so lucky to get him back. He pulled all the muscles in his back just before Ascot.

“He barely made it back for the Irish St Leger and that race just didn’t go right. He’s an incredible horse.

“It’s possible he’ll be around next year. The lads will decide what they want to do. There is a big chance he will be. I’d say the Gold Cup next year would definitely be the target if he stayed in training next year.”

Gosden said: “It was too soft and he was not entirely happy on it. He didn’t really love it through Swinley Bottom. It was very bold and sporting of Mr (Bjorn) Nielsen to run him, but he just found the ground too soft.

“He did well to win it last year as they went no pace. This year he found it too much of a slog in the ground. He has run a wonderful race and has come back in and had a whinny, so he is happy.

“We came fairly close (to pulling him out), but it’s Champions Day and we would have let the day down a bit if we didn’t run Stradivarius.

“He has been beaten a nose, so there is no disgrace in that. We will be back for the Ascot Gold Cup on good to firm in good shape.”