Few horses have ever recorded five victories in the same race and to do it in a Group 1 prize is unheard of. But the remarkable Stradivarius has developed a taste for breaking records.
Another awaits in the wonderful surroundings of the Sussex Downs at Goodwood racecourse.
Owner Bjorn Nielsen’s star horse was a promising three‐year‐old with just six starts to his name when he lined up for the Goodwood Cup in 2017.
With what has become his trademark running style, he weaved his way through the large 14‐runner field to defeat the favourite Big Orange with his stunning turn of pace under Andrea Atzeni.
Frankie Dettori had opted to ride Big Orange, who had won the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot six weeks earlier. In a quirk of fate, Atzeni was also on board the following year when Stradivarius, trained by John Gosden, made it back‐to‐back wins as Dettori was then serving a six‐day ban.
Dettori was finally in the saddle when Stradivarius landed the Goodwood Cup for the third and record fourth times. Both of those victories came at the expense of horses trained by Yorkshire‐based Mark Johnston.
After years of watching his stayers chase home Stradivarius, Johnston was finally rewarded for his persistence in last month’s Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
Subjectivist, bred by sports promoter Barry Hearn’s wife Susan, ended Stradivarius’ attempt to win a record‐equalling fourth Gold Cup.
The champ could only finish fourth at the Royal meeting but his below‐par show was arguably down to meeting traffic problems in the race. Stradivarius was boxed in on the rail with outsiders weakening in front of him just as Joe Fanning on Subjectivist had kicked for home.
Not even the brilliance of one of the truly great stayers could overcome that sort of trouble.
There will be no rematch on the Sussex Downs with Subjectivist unlikely to be seen until next season. It leaves Spanish Mission, who finished a couple of lengths ahead of Stradivarius at Royal Ascot, as chief danger.
Spanish Mission looked very good when landing the Yorkshire Cup with a smooth last‐to‐first victory in May.
Andrew Balding’s stayer was in the same boat as Stradivarius in the Gold Cup. Held up at the back of the pack, he was stuck in traffic when the winner set sail for home. To finish third was a mighty fine effort and that must make him a threat to Stradivarius’ history mission.
Another major rival Trueshan was denied his crack at the Gold Cup by the fast ground. Alan King’s star prefers it much softer, as he showed when he sliced through the Ascot mud to win the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup last October under Hollie Doyle.
The summer heatwave will has done little to improve his chances this year, but given the major recent rainfall, he must now too rate a big danger.
A fifth Goodwood Cup won’t be a cake walk for Stradivarius but he has put in so many virtuoso performances at this fantastic festival it will take something special to stop him.