Supreme stayer Stradivarius will face six rivals when he targets a record fourth successive win in the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup at Glorious Goodwood on Tuesday 28th July 2020.
The two-mile Goodwood showpiece, which forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series, was first run in 1812 but only Double Trigger (1995, 1997 and 1998) and Stradivarius have won it on three occasions. The latter now has the opportunity to raise the bar higher just 72 hours after his stablemate, Enable, became the first horse to win three editions of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth QIPCO stakes at Ascot.
Stradivarius faces an intriguing new rival in the shape of Santiago, who won the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby on his latest start and, as a three-year-old, receives 15lb.
Stradivarius finished third to Ghaiyyath in the Hurworth Bloodstock Coronation Cup on his return at Newmarket last month, when dropping to a mile and a half, and then looked better than ever when winning a third Gold Cup by ten lengths on rain-softened ground at Royal Ascot. The six-year-old is seeking a remarkable fourteenth pattern-race triumph on Tuesday, a dozen of them gained in races that fall under the QIPCO British Champions Series umbrella.
Reflecting on his runs this year, trainer John Gosden said: “I was forced to run him in the Coronation Cup [because of the fixture reshuffling], when he was caught out by fitness rather than speed behind Ghaiyyath, who broke the track record. Somebody told me we equalled the track record in third with Anthony Van Dyck [the 2018 Investec Derby winner] close with us. He has the ability to be a mile and a half horse but he met a horse who had won in Dubai and who was in top form.
“At Ascot, he seemed to handle the soft ground well. It surprised me because he has quite small feet and a quick, easy action. Did the race have its normal depth? Probably not, but he showed great style and quickened well.”
The bookmakers make Stradivarius hot favourite but Gosden is wary of the threat that Santiago presents in receipt of so much weight. “When you put the lead on those saddles and you’re going two miles with it, it’s a bundle of weight. I personally think it’s the greatest challenge probably of his life.”
Santiago had won the Queen’s Vase on his return at Royal Ascot only eight days before scooping the Irish Derby. Aidan O’Brien, his trainer, responsible for two-time Goodwood Cup winner Yeats, hopes to run him in the William Hill St Leger at Doncaster later this season.
O’Brien said: “We always thought that the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup is a race that would suit him. We’ve always viewed him as a Cup horse for next year and that two miles would be well within his grasp as a three-year-old.
“He stayed the mile and six very well [in the Queen’s Vase] at Ascot and then we went to the Irish Derby at the Curragh, where you have to get the mile and a half very well. He’s a very exciting horse who is easy to train. We think we will learn a lot about him [at the Qatar Goodwood Festival] and that the horse will learn a lot about himself. If everything goes well he will go from here straight to the St Leger.”
Mark Johnston, the trainer of Double Trigger, will be represented by Nayef Road, who won the Qatar Gordon Stakes at the Qatar Goodwood Festival last year before finishing third in the St Leger. The Galileo colt landed the Betway Sagaro Stakes on his return this year before chasing home Stradivarius in the Gold Cup last month.
Who Dares Wins was also in action at the Royal Meeting, where he won the Queen Alexandra Stakes. At 8, the Alan King-trained gelding would be the oldest winner since Cavalryman, who was the same age, in 2014.
Eagles By Day was having his first start for David O’Meara when landing the John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes at York this month, while Spanish Mission – third to Nayef Road in the Gordon Stakes 12 months ago – beat all bar Dashing Willoughby in the Coral Henry II Stakes at Sandown this month.
The field is completed by Euchen Glen, winner of the John Smith’s Cup in 2018.
HUGGINS HOPES STRADIVARIUS CAN GO ONE BETTER THAN HIS BELOVED DOUBLE TRIGGER
The owner of three-time Goodwood Cup winner Double Trigger says he hopes Stradivarius will make history and win the staying showpiece, which forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series, for a fourth time on Tuesday.
Ron Huggins has described Double Trigger as his “horse of a lifetime” and with good reason as the hugely popular chestnut, who died in February at the age of 29, took him around the world and carried his red and green colours to a dozen pattern-race victories.
Trigger, as he became affectionately known, was the first horse to win the Goodwood Cup three times (1995, 1997 and 1998) and was an emphatic winner of the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in 1995. He also scooped the Doncaster Cup three times plus twice landed the Henry II Stakes and Sagaro Stakes.
Trained throughout his six-season career by Mark Johnston, his haul of big-race triumphs also included the Italian St Leger plus he ran in the first Hong Kong Vase and a Melbourne Cup. He was retired at the age of 7, having won 14 of his 29 races, and went on to be a successful stallion.
Stradivarius has himself dominated the staying division in recent years and equalled Double Trigger’s haul of Qatar Goodwood Cup triumphs when winning the race for the third successive time last year.
Huggins said: “I enjoy watching Stradivarius and he must have a good chance of winning a fourth Goodwood Cup. I think he’s a great horse and wouldn’t begrudge him taking the record. His connections have done a fantastic job with him.
“He’s been ultra-consistent and I thought his Gold Cup win last time, when he won by ten lengths, was most exciting. Quite a few people have questioned what he has beaten but to see him accelerate clear like that was wonderful. For a stayer to have an official rating of 125 is quite something.
“We got the staying races going again [with Double Trigger] at a time when they had been in decline. Trigger had a fantastic following and it’s the same with Stradivarius. Nobody now questions the staying races – the public love them and it’s great that there’s been another horse who has captured the imagination. When Stradivarius first won the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million it created great excitement and theatre. It was really good for the sport.”
Double Trigger excelled everywhere but Huggins, 70, who is still involved in ownership and lives near Sherborne, in Somerset, believes that he reserved his best for the Sussex Downs.
He said: “When Goodwood comes around the memories always come flooding back. I think that was his favourite track and favourite distance. He won the Gold Cup and was second twice in it, too, but his front-running style at Ascot was always a bit tricky. When he got beaten it was by horses finishing late and he simply didn’t have time to respond.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that after his third Goodwood Cup victory. It was like being at Cheltenham going back to the paddock that day. The whole of the stands just poured into the winner’s enclosure to greet him.
“He brought us so much enjoyment and was just brilliant for so many people. Every time he went to races there was a chance and that’s very unusual with a racehorse.
“I’ll never forget the first time he ran at Redcar having not had a gallop before. He was out the back but when Jason Weaver asked him [to quicken] he just took off and won by 10 lengths in a record time. And that was just the start of the next six seasons. Looking back, you can’t quite believe how long it went on.”
Huggins enjoyed watching his progeny race, including in his silks, right up until the last couple of years.
He said: “He had a fantastic life and was a playful character from his first day to his last. If you took your eyes off him he’d nip a scarf off you in an instant. There was no meanness in him, he just liked to muck about.”
Would his pride and joy have beaten Stradivarius at Goodwood? “I’ve often wondered that myself. Who knows?” he said with a smile. “Stradivarius is rated higher and, as everybody knows, is always so hard to beat. But Trigger was never beaten there and always gave his all.”
Article and video courtesy of QIPCO British Champions Series. For tickets to QIPCO British Champions Day on Saturday 17th October go to britishchampionsday.co.uk
Main image courtesy of Ian Yates www.eyewhy.co.uk
Qatar Goodwood Festival 2020
The famous five-day festival – affectionately known as ‘Glorious Goodwood’ – is one of the highlights of the Flat racing season. Known to many as the world’s most beautiful racecourse it is home to top class racing including the Qatar Sussex Stakes, the cavalry charge that is the Unibet Steward’s Cup and the marathon Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup.
The 2020 event takes place from Tuesday 27th July to Saturday 1st August and Qatar continues its generous support of the week. Members of the public are invited to get involved in a number of competitions while enjoying the superb racing on ITV1 from the comfort of their own home – simply upload a picture to social channels tagging #GloriousAtHome to enter.