Ebor Festival – ‘Scrapper’ Stradivarius eyes £1m bonus in Lonsdale Cup

Stradivarius and Frankie Dettori line up at York today.
Stradivarius and Frankie Dettori line up at York today.
0
Have your say

Frankie Dettori and John Gosden bid to make racing history at York today with the “scrapper” Stradivarius – 24 hours after Enable’s supreme win in the Yorkshire Oaks.

Victory for the prize fighter Stradivarius in the Lonsdale Cup would earn the great stayer a second successive £1m bonus for his exploits.

Jockey Jim Crowley hopes it will be third time lucky for Battaash in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes.

Jockey Jim Crowley hopes it will be third time lucky for Battaash in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes.

The remarkable chestnut has developed into a winning machine over the last 18 months, enjoying a faultless campaign in 2018 as he claimed the Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup to land the inaugural Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million.

He rounded off last season with victory on Champions Day and the five-year-old, owned by Bjorn Nielsen, been just impressive this season.

“We are looking forward to the race. He did struggle in it last year – no doubt about that. It’s quite a lot of races, but they are spaced well and he has already been to York once this year for the Yorkshire Cup,” said Gosden ahead of the two-mile test.

“The old boy is fine, it’s a good field with Dee Ex Bee in there again so it will be a proper race – we know it’s not going to be easy for him. He’s a scrapper, though, the kind of guy who you’d want on your side in a bar-room brawl – he’d be right there with you until the end.”

We know it’s not going to be easy for him. He’s a scrapper, though, the kind of guy who you’d want on your side in a bar-room brawl – he’d be right there with you until the end.

John Gosden

The biggest threat to the hot favourite appears to be his old rival Dee Ex Bee, who filled the runner-up spot behind the staying superstar both at Royal Ascot and Goodwood,

He is trained at Middleham by Mark Johnston who said: “I’ll be a bit sick if we finish second to him again! But where else do you go, what can you do? We’ve got to take him on again as that is what racing is about.”

In a normal year, the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes – the Group One race for five furlong sprinters – would be the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival’s day three highlight.

The favourite is Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien’s Ten Sovereigns, who was unplaced in the 2000 Guineas before being dropped back in trip. Sensational when winning Newmarket’s six furlong July Cup, connections believe the colt will be even more effective over the minimum trip.

“We’ve no doubt about speed, he has loads of it, he shows that in his work and the clock shows that as well,” said O’Brien.

His main danger is the mercurial Battaash. Trained by Charlie Hills and ridden by jockey Jim Crowley, who began his career over jumps with Yorkshire racing legends Sue and Harvey Smith, the Goodwood specialist has finished no closer than fourth in the last two runnings of the Nunthorpe.

“He was very good at Goodwood again on his last outing. He’s very quick and tries to burn them off in the early part of a race, but he’s not always going to win,” said Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.

“I see no reason why York wouldn’t suit him. I can’t have the theory that he doesn’t act on the track. It’s not a track like Epsom, which some horses can’t take. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t handle it. It’s a very high-class race. Ten Sovereigns is a very good horse and there are plenty of other good ones in there. It will just be interesting to see how he gets on.”

Yorkshire runners include John Quinn’s El Astronaute, Ornate for David Griffiths and Copper Knight for Tim Easterby.

Meanwhile, Leyburn trainer Karl Burke saddles Dubai Station and Lord Of The Lodge in the Group Two Gimcrack Stakes – a race for future stars. “They both need to step up on what they have done in the past, but they’re good horses that look like they can go forward from here,” he said.