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Gosden plots Arc bid as Stradivarius keeps hitting high notes

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Trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori after winning the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup on Stradivarius during day one of the Goodwood Festival at Goodwood Racecourse, Chichester. PA Photo. Issue date: Tuesday July 28, 2020. See PA story RACING Goodwood Photo credit should read: Edward Whitaker/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial Use, No Commercial Use.

Trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori after winning the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup on Stradivarius during day one of the Goodwood Festival at Goodwood Racecourse, Chichester. PA Photo. Issue date: Tuesday July 28, 2020. See PA story RACING Goodwood Photo credit should read: Edward Whitaker/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial Use, No Commercial Use.

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Trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori after winning the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup on Stradivarius during day one of the Goodwood Festival at Goodwood Racecourse, Chichester. PA Photo. Issue date: Tuesday July 28, 2020. See PA story RACING Goodwood Photo credit should read: Edward Whitaker/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial Use, No Commercial Use.

You can argue that on their day there might have been a few stayers which would have given him a run for his money but in the history of racing there has not been one as accomplished as Stradivarius which became the first horse to win four Qatar Goodwood Cups yesterday.

Just to put that into a sporting context, the race was already 60 years old before the first FA Cup was played in 1872. When, receiving the three-year-old's weight-for-age allowance, Bjorn Nielsen's small home-bred chestnut beat the Gold Cup winner Big Orange in the Goodwood Cup in 2017, it was the first indication of what was to come.

But no one that day imagined he would be back here in 2020 with a haul which, besides his four Goodwood Cups, includes three Ascot Gold Cups, a Long Distance Cup, two Yorkshire Cups, two Lonsdale Cups, a Doncaster Cup and a Queen's Vase. One can only hope Mr Nielsen has a reinforced mantelpiece and buckets of Brasso.

What is more for an encore, his connections are now seriously eyeing up the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, for which he is a 14/1 shot, although that would put his jockey Frankie Dettori on the spot having to choose between him and Enable.

John Gosden made the point about 'banana skins round corners;' they both have to get there before that becomes the jockey's dilemma.

Yesterday's race was no procession like last month's Gold Cup which he won, uncharacteristically, by 10 lengths. This was reversion to type; just doing enough and not much more which has been one of the key factors in his longevity.

Briefly, a furlong and a half out, he and Dettori looked in a bit of trouble, seemingly without an exit strategy from the pocket he was in behind Santiago and kept in by Eagles By Day.

But Stradivarius is never in trouble, you rarely need a can opener to make a gap at the end of a two-mile Flat race and, in the space of a furlong, it went from uncomfortable to cosy.

The horse's rare gift is a turn of foot at the end of an equine marathon and he not only gave an Irish Derby winner Santiago 15lbs, he gave him a head start going into that last furlong and still beat him two-and-a-quarter lengths into third with Nayef Road splitting the pair. Dettori expressed surprise at the tactics which played to Stradivarius's strengths. "It was a two-furlong sprint," he said.

"He'll go for the Prix Foy (at Longchamp on September) and if he runs a good race he'll go for the Arc," Gosden said. "The great stayers were Sagaro, Ardross and Yeats but I don't think they have a record like his. He's been amazingly consistent and, were he to stay in training, Mr Nielsen would have one race in mind (to match Yeats's four Gold Cups)."

© Daily Telegraph, London

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