Stradivarius primed for Qatar Goodwood Cup hat-trick bid
Trainer Gosden’s Ascot Gold Cup winner bidding for his ninth successive victory
John Gosden: “It would be exciting if he could win it three times like Double Trigger.” Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
John Gosden reports Stradivarius to be in excellent order ahead of his attempt to claim a record-equalling third victory in the Qatar Goodwood Cup.
The five-year-old will bid to make it eight wins in succession and become only the second horse after Double Trigger to win the two-mile prize on three separate occasions.
After defending his Yorkshire Cup crown on his return, the son of Sea The Stars then retained his Gold Cup title at Royal Ascot last month.
Gosden said: “Everything has been good and I’ve been happy with him. He has been in good form since the Ascot Gold Cup.
“They went harder in the Ascot Gold Cup last year, so he had to race harder. This was quite steady and then they quickened. We gave him a nice, easy fortnight after that. The old boy seems to be back in the zone, so we are looking forward to the race.
“I think the drop back to two miles will help the others as he gets two and a half miles well. As long as he gets there in good order, I will leave it up to the jockey and him.”
Though there have been many great dual winners of the race, including Yeats and Persian Punch, the Newmarket handler is excited about the prospect of Stradivarius going one better.
He added: “I think any of these great staying horses are very important to the whole tapestry of the racing programme in Europe, let alone here in England.
“Any great cup horse whether, it is an Ardross or a Sagaro, they very much capture the imagination and Double Trigger was no exception. It would be exciting if he could win it three times like Double Trigger.”
Dee Ex Bee chased home Stradivarius at Ascot and connections of the Mark Johnston-trained four-year-old hope he can pick up the pieces should the favourite fail to fire.
Charlie Johnston, son and assistant trainer, said: “He’s in great order and it’s a repeat of Ascot really, apart from it’s half a mile shorter. I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be as effective over two miles as he was over two and a half in the Gold Cup.
“Hopefully he’ll run up to the level of his Ascot form and if for whatever reason Stradivarius has an off-day, we’ll be there to pick up the pieces.
“Stradivarius has proved for well over a year that regardless of the opposition or the way the race is run, he finds a way to win. I expect that he’ll probably do the same again tomorrow, but we’ll be giving it our best shot, that’s for sure.”
Charlie Appleby feels that the drop back in trip will play to the strengths of last year’s Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter, who finished back in fourth in the Gold Cup.
Appleby said: “He is a horse that handles the track as he is the track record holder over a mile and a half. He has come out of Ascot in good shape and dropping back to two miles is a positive.
“I think the way the race panned out at Ascot, they didn’t go an overly-strong gallop and we purposely dropped him out to get the trip and the way the race worked out, you probably wanted to be further forward.
“I’m not going to be bold and say we will turn things around, but this race will play more to the strengths of our horse I feel.”
Wells Farhh Go emerged victorious on his first start in more than 10 months at Newmarket and connections of the Tim Easterby-trained four-year-old are optimistic he can run into a place.
Alan Seley, joint owner, said: “We are going there with optimism. If he can get placed, that would be great. David [Allan] said the ground wasn’t that suitable at Newmarket for him. As long as there is no jar in it at Goodwood, he should be fine. Tim and David said this trip would be suitable for him from the middle of last year.”
Andrew Balding believes any rain will aid the chances of Queen’s Vase hero Dashing Willoughby, who is making his first start over the trip after finishing fourth in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket.
Balding said: “I’m delighted with the horse and he has improved all year. I thought it was a good run back over a mile and a half last time and two miles should be no problem for him.
“It’s a big lump of weight he receives for weight for age, which is a help, and any rain will help his chances.”
The field is completed by the Aidan O’Brien-trained trio of Southern France, South Pacific and Harpo Marx.