As easy as one-two-three; Stradivarius, one of the great stayers of all time, became only the second horse in more than 200 years to win a third Qatar Goodwood Cup when he beat Dee Ex Bee by a neck on the first day of Glorious Goodwood.
Afterwards, Bjorn Nielsen’s home-bred five-year-old – which is a 2/5 shot to land his second Weatherbys-Hamilton £1 million stayers bonus – did not look like a horse which had just had a hard race.
Apart from a killer turn of foot, it is a major asset that he does not spend an ounce more energy than necessary. So while he may never win by far, he rarely endures a hard race.
Indeed, with Frankie Dettori celebrating a stride too soon the staying-on Dee Ex Bee nearly got back at him. “When you stop riding the handbrake goes on and you go over the handlebars,” joked trainer John Gosden.
Otherwise, it was simple. The jockey of the moment slip-streamed Cross Counter, pulled Stradivarius out at the two-furlong marker, was in front at the furlong pole and, at the winning post, Stradivarius joined Double Trigger as the only other three-time winner and is the first to win three consecutively.
When asked what it meant to have both Enable and Stradivarius in his yard, Gosden recalled returning from America in 1989 and driving four hours to see Desert Orchid win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
“Remember the trainer of the previous race [David Elsworth],” he said. “It’s very important to have horses like that.”
Dettori, who cannot do much wrong this summer, said: “He felt brilliant today. I wanted to follow James [Doyle] and it was like the Tour de France – he took me into the race. I celebrated 10 yards too soon, but what a beautiful horse.”
Elsworth, without a winner of any description since April, came off the cold list when Sir Dancealot won the Lennox Stakes for the second year running.
“I haven’t had a winner since dung-spreading time,” said Elsworth. “One or two have run well and I thought the one in the first would run well, mind you he was 50/1. But he finished last! It’s been tough but you don’t lose your nerve, do you? Or do you?”
Pinatubo, the Godolphin two-year-old named after a volcano in the Philippines, looked a very smart winner of the Chesham at Royal Ascot and yesterday finished five lengths clear of a decent field in the Vintage Stakes. “We’ve been impressed with him from day one, or rather day one on the racetrack,” said trainer Charlie Appleby. “You can’t get excited watching him in the morning.”
Pinatubo is already as short as 9/4 for next year’s 2,000 Guineas. (© Daily Telegraph, London)