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Stradivarius faces eight rivals in Lonsdale Cup

22 Aug 2018

Super stayer on brink of landing £1 million bonus for exploits this season.

Stradivarius beats Count Octave in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot last year. Picture: Steve Davies/Racingfotos.com

Stradivarius will face eight rivals when he attempts to continue his domination of the stayers’ division in the £225,000 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York (2.25pm) on Friday.

The John Gosden-trained four-year-old, bred and owned by Bjorn Nielsen, has already won the first three races in the stayers’ category of this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series – the Mansionbet Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup and Qatar Goodwood Cup – and if he also wins the fourth leg will land his connections a £1 million bonus offered by Weatherbys Hamilton.

Nielsen, whose colours will also be carried by Petitioner, will be awarded the bulk of the seven-figure bonus if Stradivarius extends his winning streak, while staff at Gosden’s Newmarket yard would also have extra reason to celebrate as they would share £75,000 of the spoils.

Stradivarius impressed when securing back-to-back triumphs in the Goodwood Cup on his latest start, when he had the re-opposing Idaho (third), St Michel(fifth) and Desert Skyline (sixth) adrift.

However, his task is heightened by a 3lb penalty and he will also have to overcome the Willie Mullins-trained Max Dynamite, runaway winner of the Lonsdale Cup in 2015, who is using the race as a stepping stone towards another tilt at the Melbourne Cup. Max Dynamite has finished second and third in the past two renewals.

Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “There’s great prize money on offer at York and, as we all know, you should never be afraid of one horse. Stradivarius looks very difficult to beat, but any horse can have an off day.

“Max Dynamite has twice run really well in Melbourne and we are trying and go there again – a good run in York will put him in line for that. The Melbourne Cup is a bit like the Grand National in that horses who run well in it one year tend to run well in it again another. Max Dynamite has run well in it twice, so maybe it will be third time lucky for him.

“He’s very laid back at home, but he’s holding his form well and has won well there [at York] before. He’s been an absolute star and we think he still has more than enough ability to be competitive at this level.”

With regard to the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million, he added: “It’s a fantastic initiative for the staying horse. They are something that not many other countries have and I think it’s important to keep that tradition alive. It’s a tricky thing to do, but Stradivarius is making it look easy.”

 Red Verdon has finished runner-up in his past four races, most recently when chasing home Mirage Dancer in the Group 3 Bombay Sapphire Glorious Stakes at Goodwood. He is officially rated 6lb inferior to Stradivarius, but receives 3lb from him.

Desert Skyline, winner of the Doncaster Cup last season, has run against Stradivarius on five occasions and finished behind him every time, including when runner-up to him in the Yorkshire Cup in May. He is 6lb better off, though, for the three-length beating he received.

Count Octave’s exploits have included finishing a neck second to Stradivarius in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot last year. The Frankel colt has not made the same progression but was a good third in the Queen Alexandra Stakes on his latest start. The field is completed by Sir Chauvelin.