Friday 22 September 2017

Stradivarius tunes up for Leger with Big Orange scalp

Stradivarius continued the great run being enjoyed by John Gosden to deny Big Orange his place in history when beating him in the Qatar Goodwood Cup yesterday. Stock photo
Stradivarius continued the great run being enjoyed by John Gosden to deny Big Orange his place in history when beating him in the Qatar Goodwood Cup yesterday. Stock photo

Marcus Armytage

Stradivarius continued the great run being enjoyed by John Gosden to deny Big Orange his place in history when beating him in the Qatar Goodwood Cup yesterday.

As the St Leger hope had done in the past two editions of the race and this year's Ascot Gold Cup, Big Orange made his bid to become the only horse to complete a Goodwood Cup hat-trick by making all the running. And, two furlongs out, everything appeared to be going to plan.

He had all his rivals out of their comfort zone with one exception - Gosden's Queen's Vase winner.

Stradivarius was moving into contention under Andrea Atzeni, who claimed four victories in an inspired opening day on the Downs, but the statistics were not in his favour - not since Lucky Moon in 1990 had a three-year-old triumphed in the race.

Frankie Dettori, who had come up the centre of the course in search of better ground, was aware of the danger on the far side and took Big Orange over to his rival to ensure he knew he was in a race, but Stradivarius, who was receiving 13lb, had too many guns for Mike Bell's popular gelding on the good to soft ground.

Desert Skyline came home in third for David Elsworth, with Willie Mullins' Punchestown Champion Hurdle winner Wicklow Brave one spot further back under Jim Crowley.

Aidan O'Brien's US Army Ranger, with Ryan Moore on board, failed to kick on once the top two turned the screw and crossed the line in eighth.

"He ran really well and we know he's better on faster ground," said Bell. "But the winner is probably a very good horse. There were only two three-year-olds in the race and they were first and third.

"It's a big weight concession and the first two came right away from the rest. Of course there's a little sense of disappointment but, equally, he's run his heart out and I'm very proud of him."

Stradivarius, a homebred of New York-based Swede Bjorn Nielsen, is now 5/1 for the St Leger.

The day could not have started much better for Bell when the Queen's Fabricate, second across the line a head behind Dark Red in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap, was awarded the race in the stewards' room after receiving a hefty bump from the 'winner'. It was Bell's sixth winner for the Queen this season.

Oisin Murphy, Dark Red's rider, was given an eight-day ban for "careless riding".

He was the first, but will not be the last, jockey to receive a holiday this week at Goodwood - a track notorious among riders for suspensions.

Fabricate's starting price of 20/1 was by no means the biggest of the day either, with El Astronaute scoring at 33/1, Breton Rock sweeping from last to first in the Lennox Stakes at 50/1 and Thechildren'strust landing the juvenile maiden at 100/1. Goodwood has been only glorious for the bookmakers so far.

Oblige

The one well-backed favourite to oblige was Michael Stoute's Expert Eye in the Vintage Stakes.

The race has a rich history of smart winners from Troy through to Sir Percy, Shamardal, Olympic Glory, Highland Reel and Galileo Gold and yesterday's winner might not look out of place on that illustrious roll-call, judging by how easily she skipped clear to become the first winner of Atzeni's 8,344/1 four-timer.

Elsewhere, Silvestre de Sousa resisted the delights of Glorious Goodwood for the seaside air at Yarmouth and was rewarded with a 142-1 four-timer in his relentless pursuit of regaining the jockeys' championship.

The Brazilian struck on Midnight Wilde, Free Forum, Victory Angel and Annie Salts to take his tally in the title race to 89 and extend his lead over last season's winner Crowley.

De Sousa took the richest race on the card, the Shirley Gill Memorial Handicap, on Victory Angel (4/1 favourite).

He set sail for home a furlong and a half out on the Roger Varian-trained three-year-old, who kept up the gallop to score by two and a half lengths from Gulliver.

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