JOHN Gosden is confident Stradivarius is at the top of his game ahead of his defence of the Qatar Goodwood Cup.
The son of Sea The Stars was a decisive winner of the Group One contest 12 months ago and returns with an unblemished record so far this season following victories in the Yorkshire Cup and Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
Stradivarius is on course to complete the WH Stayers’ Million, a bonus of £1m offered by Weatherbys Hamilton which will be awarded to the horse who wins one of four prep races in May followed by the Gold Cup, the Goodwood Cup and the Lonsdale Cup at York next month.
Gosden said: “He won it last year and has done nothing but please us since he won at Royal Ascot. Going into these Cup races takes a lot out of horses, but he has had a nice gap between Ascot and Goodwood and I think that will help him in every way.”
With his regular partner Frankie Dettori sidelined by suspension, Andrea Atzeni will get back on board Stradivarius for the first time since steering him to success in last year’s renewal.
He said: “Most of the main stables have got their own jockeys and great spares like this are extremely hard to come by. It’s exciting to get the call and, hopefully, I’ll repay the faith.”
Going into these Cup races takes a lot out of horses, but he has had a nice gap between Ascot and Goodwood and I think that will help him in every way.John Gosden on Stradivarius
The jockey feels Stradivarius returns to Goodwood an even better horse than a year ago, adding: “He was young, still quite narrow and a little bit weak this time last year. When I saw him in the paddock at York in May I hardly recognised him.
“He was a lot stronger and was much more the finished article – a completely different horse.”
Stradivarius renews rivalry with Jessica Harrington’s Irish challenger Torcedor, who was beaten by just a length into third place in the Gold Cup.
The William Haggas-trained Call To Mind was last seen carrying the colours of the Queen to victory in the Belmont Gold Cup in New York last month.
John Warren, the Queen’s racing manager, said: “Call To Mind has come out of the Belmont race very well and goes to Goodwood in great form. We are hopeful of a good run as he is now really coming of age.
“He has matured into a fine horse.”
THE Juddmonte International and the Irish Champion Stakes are potential targets for Benbatl after he bounced back to form with a dominant Group One success in Germany.
The four-year-old disappointed when favourite for the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, but had significantly less on his plate in the Grosser Dallmayr Preis – Bayerisches Zuchtrennen in Munich, and stamped his class with an authoritative display in the hands of Oisin Murphy, who was recording his fifth Group One win of the past year.
“We’ll keep the options open for him. He could go for the Juddmonte at York (August 22) or the Irish Champion (Leopardstown, September 15),” said trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
“Later in the year we could think about taking him to Australia. We’ll discuss the options with Sheikh Mohammed.”