The race is the main event of the third and final day of this year’s Dante Festival, with the bookmaker taking over sponsorship and putting £175,000 on offer in prize money.
Stradivarius, trained by John and Thady Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori has won on five occasions in total on the Knavesmire, with victory today making him the joint winningmost horse on the course with Tom Easterby’s Copper Knight – who failed to win yesterday - and Michael Dods’s Wednesday scorer Dakota Gold
Odds-on favourite Stradivarius, winner of the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup in 2018 and 2019, as well as the Doncaster Cup in 2019 and 2021, faces four rivals over a mile and threequarters, on what is likely to be his final appearance at a track where he remains unbeaten.
His handler has outlined a three-race programme for him in what could be his final season, beginning on Friday, before moving onto Ascot, then Goodwood, and revealed how everything done at home by the Clarehaven team is to ensure their stable favourite hits the track in top form.
“It’s a very different thing training an eight-year-old full horse as to training an eight-year-old gelding. He’s an eight-year-old stallion if you like - and to that extent I try and do everything right by the horse,” explained Gosden.
“He still enjoys his training but he knows it all backwards now. Rather like an old prize fighter coming back into the ring, it’s the getting fit and up for the fight - it’s not as easy as it used to be when he was younger. So, I would expect him to be benefitting from the race.
“I’m certainly not giving him hard, hard works at home - he’s too old for that. To that extent I don’t want everyone there thinking he’s going to necessarily go and win another Yorkshire Cup. I’d just like to see him run a race that acts as a platform going forward and chose this race because it’s closer to Royal Ascot rather than going to the Sagaro, which we did last year.”
Malton’s Brian Ellison is confident Tashkhan will have improved for his outing in the Sagaro Stakes and like Gosden’s stayer is using this race as a platform for the Gold Cup.
He said: “He has improved since then (Ascot), he needed the run. Obviously one-mile-six on good ground might be sharp enough for him, but it’s a stepping stone for the Ascot Gold Cup.”
Richard Hannon’s Miami Girl looks to book her ticket to Royal Ascot in a red-hot edition of York’s Knights Solicitors Marygate Fillies’ Stakes.
Alice Haynes’s Thirsk winner Fix You and Darryll Holland’s Primrose Ridge, who won last time out by seven lengths at Beverley, also run.
Middleham-trained Thunderous makes a quick return to the track having made a bold bid from the front in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester last week. Mark and Charlie Johnston’s former Dante winner was beaten less than a length by Hamish and is given another chance to excel over an extended trip.
Harry Herbert, managing director for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: “At Chester he completely turned around the Newbury effort, which is very typical of him as he can be very sluggish in his first race of the year, the same thing happened last year before he got injured.
“Charlie and Mark have reported that he has bounced out of that well, so looking at this race, we are very keen to go a mile and six with him and when you look at the race, it is one where if he takes a step up on all fronts, he could run into a place and there’s plenty of prize-money on offer.”