- Sire-Dam -
Stradivarius is the best stayer in training and his domination in 2018 has been complete – and richly rewarding for his connections for his owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen.
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 for the first time by Weatherbys Hamilton.
The, for good measure, he 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? None other than 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.
“As for next season, it seems pretty obvious to keep him to the same races.”
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 said he had the race under control in the last half a furlong.
In receipt of 13lb, Stradivarius kept on strongly to master one of the best stayers we have seen in recent years.
Andrea Atzeni, his jockey, 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 truly seems one in a million.
BCS Career statistics
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