FRANKIE Dettori has hailed Stradivarius as a “great little horse” as the champion stayer prepares to make his seasonal reappearance in today’s Yorkshire Cup – the final day highlight of the 2019 Dante festival.
Owned by Bjorn Nielsen, the five-year-old won the corresponding contest 12 months ago at the start of a summer of success which saw Stradivarius, trained by John Gosden, earn a £1m bonus for his connections.
Any horse hoping to scoop the Stayers’ Million for landing the Ascot Gold Cup, the Goodwood Cup and the Lonsdale Cup at York’s Ebor festival in August must first win one of eight qualifying races across Britain, Ireland, Dubai, France and Germany – of which the Yorkshire Cup is one.
“It’s very unusual to have a stayer with such a turn of foot,” eulogised Dettori who suffered a surprise reverse yesterday when odds-on favourite Too Darn Hot was beaten in the Dante Stakes. “He’s a great little horse. What he’s done has been remarkable and we are going to try to do it all again, but it’s going to be more difficult with more competition and more miles on the clock.”
Gosden has reported no problems with the horse’s build-up for today’s race.
“He’s been very happy and jolly in himself throughout (his preparation) and he’s looking forward to coming back here (York),” said the champion trainer.
Ispolini could be a major contender for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby. The Dubawi gelding has enjoyed a lucrative campaign already, having won twice at Meydan, and was last seen chasing home his Melbourne Cup-winning stablemate Cross Counter in the Dubai Gold Cup.
Appleby said: “I think dropping back in trip from two miles to a mile and three-quarters is going to suit as he is a horse that travels well and picks up well.
“In the Dubai Gold Cup, he was just outstayed by a better horse in Cross Counter.
“We know Stradivarius is a supreme stayer and we’ve all got him to beat, but if Ispolini brings that Dubai form to the table, he is going to be very competitive.”
The Mark Johnston-trained Mildenberger is stepping up in distance after finishing third in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket.
“His first run of the year at Epsom was a non-event – he stumbled at the start and never got into it. His last run at Newmarket proved he is up to Group Two level and we had slight stamina doubts before that race, but we have no doubts now,” said the Middleham trainer.
Johnston, however, has chosen not to run last year’s Epsom Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee. The horse is likely to head straight to Ascot for the Gold Cup after a pleasing win in the Sagaro Stakes at the Berkshire track last month.
Karl Burke’s stable star Laurens will face 13 rivals when the five-time Group One winner lines up in tomorrow’s Lockinge Stakes at Newbury. Opponents to the Leyburn horse, the mount of PJ McDonald, include rival North Yorkshire trainer David O’Meara’s Lord Glitters. He will be ridden by Danny Tudhope who is closing in on his 1,000th career winner.