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Million maker Stradivarius is a long running hit


While the Stradivarius remains the most sought after violin globally, its equine namesake is ruling the roost among stayers in England and no matter who wields the bow his performances in his 4yo season continue to resound with a kind of classic richness that belongs those widely considered elitist. None seemed able enough to stop this John Gosden-trained son of Sea The Stars from claiming the inaugural Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million which owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen will hope to spend wisely as he looks to create another champion. Nielsen was overjoyed with the chestnut colt after he sensationally landed the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup on the third day of the Ebor Festival at York Racecourse.

And buoyed by the effort that won Nielsen & Co a further £1 million in bonus to the £127,597 that they had already been assured of on account of winning the 3250m event on ground declared good to firm, Nielsen was quick to declare that: “I might win a bigger race, but I’ll never own another horse like that again.” Whether he is proved right or wrong will be revealed over time but for now Stradivarius’ connections are sure to basking in his achievement and the successful culmination of the challenge which brought with it a rich monetary reward. The gauntlet had been laid and Stradivarius rose to the occasion, running with a rhythm that peaked like a crescendo in a classic orchestral piece under the masterful conductor of such brilliant symphonies that is Dettori. His 4yo season started on 18 May with the 2800m Group 2 Yorkshire Cup, which was one of the four recognised prep races a horse needed to win to stay in contention for the £1 million bonus.

And while he displayed a kind of gameness in succeeding in the other significant distance challenges of Britain, the Group 1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot on 21 June over 4000m and the Group 1 Goodwood Cup on 31 July, it was a sheer demonstration of guts and determination that won him the Lonsdale Cup on 24 August. “It was impossible: brilliant trainer, brilliant jockey,” Nielsen told reporters after Stradivarius had been led into the winners’ enclosure and Dettori had leaped out of the saddle in his trademark celebratory fashion. “This is the first time in the last 2 years that I’ve seen him do it on his heart. He has this great mind where he is cool and calm and just never flustered. He’s got that champions thing where he never gets upset like it’s no big deal, it’s just another day at the races.

“To win a leg of this is a huge incentive because they are all prestigious races. But to win four, you first of all need a tremendous horse, but you also need an enormous amount of luck and a very talented trainer to bring the horse to peak four times in a season.” Gosden echoed similar sentiments when he said: “No horse won these 4 races together and it’s an extraordinary thing. “It’s a phenomenal achievement by the horse. When you have a horse like that you know you can do it. He is not a big strapping horse, but he has tremendous determination and a lot of class and he has had a lot of racing this year and I wouldn’t say that he was at his sparkling best but he showed a lot of heart to go and win it.”

Gosden, who picked up the Champion Trainers gong at the Festival after scalping four wins, added: “Bjorn is passionate about breeding horses and if anyone deserves this Bjorn deserves it. The amount of time he puts into pedigrees and everything else and this hasn’t happened by fluke. “A magnificent race and all credit goes down to the breeding but that is a truly magnificent racehorse.” Nielsen will speak with Gosden on whether or not Stradivarius needs a break from racing after making it four out of four in 2018. October’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in Paris could be his next calling, but Bjorn is yet undecided about his star’s future “There’s no doubt he’s either going to be put away or the odds are he will turn up on Champions Day or go to Paris for the Arc,” Nielsen said.

One thing is sure, Nielsen has no plans to travel him to Dubai or Australia. “At the moment I’m not really thinking of travelling him to Australia or Dubai I think Paris is about as south as he will go,” he said. “I’m pretty keen to keep him running in these big stayer events in England. The racing in Dubai is fantastic with fantastic prize money but you know travelling the horse can put a lot of miles on the clock and if you want to go around for a couple of seasons you have to look after the wheels. “So I’m keen to just look after him for the next couple of years. “A lot of horses try and do the travelling and try to come back as good as they were. If I can keep him young and ready, he’s only four years old and if he stays sound touch wood he can go around here next year and the year after.” Looks like Nielsen, Gosden and the rest of the Stradivarius’ camp have their work cut out over where this champion plays his next symphony.

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27 Sep 2018
Issue Number: Issue 648
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Dubai playing a key role in British racing, says Jockey Club boss
Busybody Tadhg looks to scale mountains after climbing Hills
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