Occasionally, often once in a generation, a horse comes along that is simply too good for all that it competes against.
And connections of the best stayers on the flat must be getting that sinking feeling every time that Stradivarius takes to the track.
The incredible five-year-old has been at it again: today, he won the Qatar Goodwood Cup for a third consecutive year.
With the expert handling of Frankie Dettori on board, punters that had backed the 4/5 shot were rarely worried even when Wells Farhh Go opened up a big lead after setting an aggressive pace.
But on softer ground that expected he soon faltered, and Stradivarius – like an Aston Martin purring down a motorway – began to ominously make his way through the field.
Dee Ex Bee, who finished runner-up to the favourite in the Gold Cup, tried to kick on and made a game effort, while Melbourne Cup champion Cross Counter was also travelling nicely.
But Stradivarius has made a name for himself with a devastating fifth gear heading into the latter stages of these energy-sapping renewals, and his kick to the line was perfectly timed by Dettori to secure more major glory on board this staggering horse.
Few were truly surprised of course, and now he looks a red-hot favourite to claim a second consecutive Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers Million, a handsome cash bonus to any horse that can win the Yorkshire Cup, the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, the Qatar Goodwood Cup and finally the Lonsdale Cup at the Ebor Festival later on in August.
It was a feat accomplished by John Gosden’s charge in 2018, and as a result the £1 million was split with 70% going to his owner – a rather chuffed Bjorn Nielsen – and the remaining 30% shared between Gosden, Dettori, stable staff and his breeders.
With just one race separating Stradivarius from racing immortality, they could have one million more reasons to cheer come August 23 at York.
Not Even the Rain Can Dampen Gosden’s Spirits
At the start of the 2018 campaign, bookmakers were offering 20/1 about ANY horse winning the Stayers Million, and 50/1 specifically about Stradivarius.
Anyone canny enough – or perhaps daft enough – to take that price, given the complexity of the task in hand, will have been laughing all the way to the bank as the five-year-old cleaned up in long distance races last season.
It’s been a similar pattern this term too, with Stradivarius just doing enough to see off Dee Ex Bee twice in the Goodwood Cup and the Gold Cup as well as Southern France in the Yorkshire Cup back in May. Odds of Stradivarius winning the Stayers’ Million are now just 4/5.
It’s particularly interesting given the margin of victory in those three races, with the favourite getting home by less than a length in each, and that suggests he isn’t invincible by any means.
Indeed, there was support on the betting floor for others at Goodwood, with the rain falling on the back of more significant downpours over the weekend to soften the going somewhat.
Gosden has called Stradivarius a ‘top-of-the-ground’ horse, and he too was concerned for his charge on the slicker surface in the Goodwood Cup.
A gutsy effort saw the horse home, but the door is clearly closing with Dee Ex Bee and Cross Counter both more than capable of ending Stradivarius’ Stayers Million dream.
Punters be warned: victory in the Lonsdale Cup is far from a certainty.