- Sire-Dam -
The mighty Frankel won a record nine QIPCO British Champions Series races before being retired at the end of the 2012 season.
There will never be another like him but supreme stayer Stradivarius has gone two better than him and chalked up a remarkable 11 Series wins.
His second victory in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York in August 2019 out took him to double figures and he was not extended to make it 11 in the Magners Rose Doncaster Cup at Doncaster.
He almost made it 12 in an epic Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup but was pipped a nose by Kew Gardens. It was his first defeat in 11 races and two years.
“We came fairly close to pulling out, but it’s Champions Day and you let the day down if you don’t run Stradivarius,” John Gosden said. “He was only beaten a nose, so no disgrace in that, and it’s just not his ground. We’ll be back for the Ascot Gold Cup on good to firm, where we’ll be in good shape.”
Stradivarius’s other nine Series triumphs comprise three Qatar Goodwood Cups, two Gold Cups at Royal Ascot, two Yorkshire Cups and a QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup. His exploits have won his connections about £2.5 million in prize money – plus another £2 million in bonuses offered by Weatherbys Hamilton via their Stayers Million initiative.
Proud owner Bjorn Nielsen said after his penultimate success: “I’ve said before that I started out trying to breed a Derby horse and I’ve ended up with him, but you couldn’t have a horse better than him, even if you won a Derby.
“He’s a rare beast, to win what he has. He never makes it easy, you never know what he has left. A 3lb penalty is a lot over two miles and Dee Ex Bee gives his all every time, but he comes up trumps every time.
“This year he’s a lot stronger, I thought he won the Gold Cup fairly comfortably, and he didn’t give us as much of a fright here today as he did last year.”
Stradivarius became the first horse since Yeats to win back-to-back renewals of the Gold Cup in June, having landed the Matchbook Yorkshire Cup at York on his return despite being burdened by a penalty.
THEY’VE DONE IT!
The superb, the sensational STRADIVARIUS and Frankie Dettori make it a Gold Cup double in style!
— Champions Series (@ChampionsSeries) June 20, 2019
Gosden said after his latest Gold Cup success: “This is not Stradivarius’ favoured ground – he is a much better horse on top of the ground – but he has just shown that he can still quicken on that kind of ground. Full marks to a remarkable horse, and a mercurial and remarkable jockey [Frankie Dettori].
“There have been some great stayers; Le Moss, Sagaro, who Francois Boutin brought over three times, Yeats as well. They are super, wonderful horses and great for the racing public because people get to know them.
“This little guy with his white socks and white face looks like the Milky Bar Kid should be riding him rather than a jockey, but he is a remarkable athlete and a charming horse to be around. He has a beautiful mind on him.”
Nielsen said: “I’d like to keep Stradivarius going for as long as his mind and body want to do it. I’m not thinking Yeats, or even Sagaro, Le Moss and Ardross – they were such legends. You can never say he was in their league until his career has finished and you can look back and assess him. He’s a very good horse, but they were legends and this is a different era.
“I’d love him to go on forever, but I know I’ll be going through the valleys again one day when I’ll be coming back here with no runners.”
Dettori, 48, has ridden many champions over the years and said: “Stradivarius is an amazing horse. His heart is bigger than his body. He does not know how to lose. All I have to do is get him amongst other horses and he does the rest – what a horse.
“For a stayer, this lad has everything. He loves getting into a fight and he is a brilliant horse to ride.”
His third Goodwood Cup success, gained in fluent fashion, confirmed he has no peers over a distance of ground. The only other horse to win the race three times has been Double Trigger.
His domination in 2018 was complete – and richly rewarding for his connections.
Successive wins in the Mansionbet Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup, Qatar Goodwood Cup and Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup – all QIPCO British Champions Series races – earned them a £1 million bonus offered for the first time by Weatherbys Hamilton. The bulk went to Nielsen.
For good measure, Stradivarius won the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup on Champions Day to cap his perfect year. In the process he became only the second horse to win five QIPCO British Champions Series in the space of one season. The other to do it? Frankel in 2012.
The Yorkshire Cup was won easily but he had to be tenacious in a thrilling Gold Cup before winning at Goodwood with a bit to spare. In the Lonsdale Cup he was workmanlike, his earlier exploits perhaps catching up with a bit.
“Full marks to the owner, he’s been trying to breed a Derby winner for years and he ends up with a Cup horse!” Gosden said with a smile. “But seriously, he’s passionate about breeding and puts a lot of time and effort into it, so he deserves it.
“It’s an extraordinary achievement. The horse has a lot of determination, but also a lot of class.”
Reflecting on the year, he said: “The highlight was definitely Ascot, that was a terrific race, we never knew if he’d stay or not. After the first leg we were only thinking of Ascot, after that then it [the £1 million bonus] became a real possibility, then of course, after Goodwood we were only ever going to be thinking of it.
“When it was announced we thought it was a great incentive, but would be very hard to do, so I’m thrilled to do it in the first year.”
A proud Nielsen said: “To win just one leg of the incentive is huge, they are all prestigious races. To win four, first of all you need a tremendous horse, but you also need an enormous amount of luck and a very talented trainer to bring the horse to a peak four times in a season.”
After the Gold Cup, where Stradivarius beat Vazirabad, Torcedor and Order Of St George in a tremendous tussle, Gosden had said: “He’s a proper little staying horse that we call Mighty Mouse because he’s not very big – he looks a bit like a mini Trigger with his four white feet, but he is a gorgeous horse. He’s done it really, really well, and loves this [fast] ground as he can flick off it and quicken well.”
And after he had followed up at Goodwood, Gosden added: “They have long criticised chestnut horses with four white socks and a white face, or at least they did until The Minstrel came along in the 1970s and won Derbys and King Georges, and this horse is the same. He has a lot of heart and Andrea [Atzeni, standing in for the banned Dettori] said he had the race under control in the last half a furlong.
“I’ve just ticked him over since Royal Ascot. He’s the most charming horse to be around – a real gentleman. He’s a little bit like a motorbike; he can go out there and do a little bit on his own or a bit in company. You press the button and off he goes, you flick the switch and he pulls up. He’s a lovely ride.”
On Champions Day, he again showed his blend of speed and stamina to win a tactical race by a length and a half.
“I said on Racing UK beforehand that the ground was one thing, but we are going to get put in the box from stall one and he’ll have to be Houdini to get out of it – well he did,” Gosden said.
“He saw that glimpse on the bend and he dived for it. Ryan (Moore, on Flag Of Honour) tried to shut it but he was too late. It was a very clever ride. If he’d tried to come round, he would have been put back in that box.
“He’s a great horse – a fabulous horse – who didn’t like that ground, but what a clever ride to take that one opportunity. We committed sooner than we wanted to on ground he didn’t like, but it was jockeyship at its highest level.”
In receipt of 13lb, Stradivarius kept on strongly to master one of the best stayers we have seen in recent years.
Atzeni, who rode him that day, said: “He was getting a lot of weight off Big Orange and is still improving. I don’t think he knows how good he is – he’s a little immature and still learning. He’ll be better next year. He doesn’t know he’s a racehorse.”
Regardless of the fact he was on a learning curve, Stradivarius ran two more crackers before the year was out.
On his next start when beaten half a length in the William Hill St Leger at Doncaster behind Capri and Crystal Ocean, and then he finished a length third to Order Of St George in the Long Distance Cup on QIPCO Champions Day at Ascot.
He is truly one in a million. Or should that be two million?
BCS Career statistics
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