Stradivarius the ageing champion attempts to reclaim his crown

Can Stradivarius, the outstanding stayer of his generation, reclaim his crown? That is the big question of the opening day of Glorious Goodwood, as the eight-year-old renews battle with Kyprios, the new champion.


Stradivarius has a huge following among British racing fans and they will be celebrating loudly if their hero can win the Group 1 Goodwood Cup for a record fifth time.


Last month, at Royal Ascot, Stradivarius attempted to win his fourth Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup (3991m). There was drama during the race and after it. Ridden by his usual partner, Frankie Dettori, Stradivarius endured a troubled run before finishing third.


John Gosden, who trains Stradivarius with his son Thady, could not contain his frustration that Dettori allowed his mount to drop back from a prominent position before having to come wide. He said, “Our hero overcomplicated it. I just wish we had been a little handier and not had to go around a wall of horses.”


Owner Bjorn Nielsen also expressed his dissatisfaction. The result is that Dettori, who has won 15 Group races on Stradivarius, has been replaced by Andrea Atzeni. Atzeni rode Stradivarius to win the Goodwood Cup in 2017 and 2018.


At eight years old, Stradivarius, noted for his turn of foot, may not be quite as formidable and it was the lightly raced, improving four-year-old Kyprios who won the Ascot Gold Cup.


Trainer Aidan O’Brien said, “We were delighted with him. We weren’t sure about the trip but he got it well. The Goodwood Cup has always been the plan since Ascot and we are happy with him. We think there is more improvement to come.”


Both horses have to beat Trueshan, last year’s Goodwood Cup winner who recently put up an outstanding weight carrying performance to win the prestigious Northumberland Plate (3251m) at Newcastle.


Trueshan is at his best on soft ground and has never raced on going faster than ‘good.’ Last year, in Stradivarius’s absence, Trueshan benefited from the soft going. Faster ground would disadvantage him.


There to take advantage of any weaknesses in the main contenders is Coltrane, an improving five-year-old.


The Goodwood Cup, over 3209 metres, will be the focus of attention but there is a strong supporting card, including the Group 2 Vintage Stakes (1409m) and World Pool Lennox Stakes (1409m).


The latter race has attracted a high class 1400m specialist in Sacred, whose connections will be hoping that the ground remains fast. Trainer William Haggas explained that, as there was no Group 1 race over 1400m at Royal Ascot last month, he chose the Group 1 Platinum Jubilee Stakes there over 1200m for the filly’s first run since August.


Sacred ran a fine race, finishing well to be a close up fifth. Haggas said, “The Lennox Stakes looks the obvious race for her, as she likes seven furlongs and fast ground.”


Earlier, the Vintage Stakes is an opportunity for promising two-year-olds to be tested when stepped up in class. Holloway Boy is favourite to follow up his 40/1 victory in a Listed race over 1400m at Royal Ascot.

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