Stradivarius all tuned up for tilt at rare Goodwood hat-trick
Enable joined a select band at Ascot on Saturday when she became only the third horse to claim two King Georges, but stable companion Stradivarius can join an even more exclusive club on top of the Sussex Downs today by winning the £500,000 Goodwood Cup for a third time.
Only one horse has claimed three victories in the race, inaugurated in 1808, and that is Mark Johnston's popular stayer Double Trigger, which was successful in 1995, '97 and '98.
Double Trigger's first was probably his most memorable, when he went toe-to-toe with full brother, Double Eclipse, six weeks after beating Moonax five lengths in the Gold Cup.
"Obviously he was a very good horse," said Jason Weaver, who rode him to win his first Goodwood Cup.
"But what set him apart is that he relaxed so much more than 97 per cent of the racehorse population.
"He immediately switched off in his races and was never racing until two or three furlongs down."
That is something the John Gosden-trained Stradivarius has in common; he switches off and finds his own rhythm under Frankie Dettori.
On top of that he has the speed to win over a mile and three quarters but the stamina to win over two and a half, and whether his rivals try and do him for toe or eke out his endurance it does not matter; either way suits him.
Ironically Dee Ex Bee, the length runner-up in the Gold Cup, is trained by Johnston, who rarely leaves the Sussex Downs without a hat-full of winners.
However, even he is not confident of reversing the Ascot form.
"You should never run away from one horse," he said. "But I think Goodwood will probably suit Stradivarius more than it will Dee Ex Bee. We go, we do our best and hope."
He might get lucky, as the weather for the first day of Goodwood is set to be anything but great, before brightening up for the rest of the week.
Last year Dee Ex Bee was a warm favourite to win the four-runner Gordon Stakes, but was beaten by Cross Counter, not such a bad result a few months later when the latter became the first British horse to win the Melbourne Cup.
They meet again today and two miles puts Charlie Appleby's five-year-old in with a shout. If the going is genuinely good he should not get the wheel spin which counteracted his turn of foot on the soft at Ascot.
Johnston will send 25 horses to where he has been leading trainer 12 times and, with 78 winners, has high hopes for Visinari in the Qatar Vintage Stakes today. (© Daily Telegraph, London)