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Stradivarius is pitch perfect in Gold Cup thriller

21 Jun 2018

Joy for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori as four-year-old edges out Vazirabad and Torcedor at Royal Ascot

Dettori and Gosden moments after achieving Gold Cup glory with Stradivarius. Picture: Racingfotos.com

A jubilant John Gosden was able to savour training his first Gold Cup winner after Stradivarius hit all the right notes to win an compelling stayer’s showpiece at Royal Ascot on Thursday.

Less than a length separated the first three home – Stradivarius battling tenaciously under Frankie Dettori to prevail by three quarters of a length from Vazirabad, the prolific French raider, with the game Torcedor just another neck further back in third..

Many had billed the iconic race as a duel between Order Of St George, the 2016 winner who was beaten a short head in last year’s renewal, and Stradivarius. The pair were sent off 7-4 joint-favourites but the former was in trouble half a mile from home and could only plug on for  fourth.

“It was an extraordinary race,” Gosden said. “Frankie said they didn’t go that quick, and his heels were definitely down early on, which meant the horse was taking him on.

“Frankie got himself out of a pocket, which was essential with the pacemaker coming back, and got himself in the perfect position. But as usual, Mr (Christophe) Soumillon (on Vazirabad) was waiting like all good Frenchman to pounce late and frustrate us.

“What an exciting finish that was – and look at the line-up as they headed to the line. That’s a pretty smart front four.

“It was a fascinating tactical race, because if Frankie had gone too soon there was the danger that Vazirabad would nail him – if he had committed to kill off a rival at the furlong pole the French could have come along to collect the prize so he had to be careful of that.”

Stradivarius had not run over the stamina-testing trip of two and a half miles, but he ran to the line tenaciously.

Gosden said: “He did see it out and he was going away at the finish. 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 will go back to Goodwood next – he won the race last year – and then try for the Lonsdale Stakes.”

Should he win both, then he will land his connections a £1 million bonus. “I’ve heard the bonus is well insured,” Gosden said.

Dettori said: “Stradivarius was a lion.  The Gold Cup is the highlight of the week and to win it again is amazing, especially as it’s my first one for John Gosden and team, who have been fabulous behind the scenes.”

Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre was magnanimous in defeat following Vaziribad’s defeat. He said: “When Vazirabad got to the front, he stopped. He doesn’t like to be in front too long.

“He was touched two or three times by the winner and after that, he refused to give the maximum. He can have a long career as he only does the minimum. We might look at something like the Goodwood Cup.”

Jessica Harrington’s Torcedor led into in the home straight and kept on well to finish third. She said: “Torcedor has run a brilliant race. He saw the trip out very well today and kept on finding all the way to the line.

“He goes on that ground, but on soft ground, he probably goes on it better than other horses. He goes just as well as other horses on fast ground, but I think he does like softer conditions.

“It was a great performance and hopefully we’ll bring him back again next year.”