Successful in the Qatar Goodwood Cup in both 2017 and 2018, Stradivarius (John Gosden) has the chance to become just the second triple winner of the historic two-mile contest, an accolade held only by the great Double Trigger (1995, 1997, 1998).
Stradivarius cemented his standing as Europe’s top stayer with another thrilling display in the G1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, as he defeated main rival Dee Ex Bee (Mark Johnston) and Irish challenger Master Of Reality (Joseph O’Brien IRE) in commanding fashion. That was five-year-old’s second victory in the two-and-a-half-mile highlight, and his seventh win on the bounce.
Many believed Dee Ex Bee, the 2018 Investec Derby runner-up, had the armoury to topple Stradivarius in the Gold Cup, following a pair of dominant victories in the G3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot and G3 Henry II Stakes at Sandown Park, and connections have not given up hope of doing so. Dee Ex Bee’s trainer Mark Johnston has an excellent record in the Qatar Goodwood Cup, having won the race five times in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the aforementioned Double Trigger, Royal Rebel (2000) and Darasim (2004).
Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, said: “Dee Ex Bee has come out of the Gold Cup well and, although we are no longer in the running for the WH Stayers’ Million, the Qatar Goodwood Cup looks a fairly obvious next target.“We were very pleased with the horse last week; I don’t think there was any reason not to be. It was a great run in defeat and again he showed what a fantastic attitude he has, coming from looking like he would finish third or fourth at the furlong marker to getting back up for second in the final stride. The winner is a true champion who has shown now over the last 18 months that regardless of what conditions are thrown at him, he finds a way to win. And on that particularly day, Frankie [Dettori] at one stage seemed almost invincible. Going forward, we are thinking that it is probably not ideal for our horse to make his own running. Having something to aim at might help him, as he enjoys a battle. We came off second best and are under no illusions that the winner will start favourite again, but we are looking forward to having another crack at him.”