The Royal Ascot Gold Cup is swiftly approaching and all eyes will be on Stradivarius, who is looking for a second successive win after edging out favourite Vazirabad by three-quarters of a length in 2018. The Gold Cup is widely considered the highlight of Ladies Day and the feature race of the five-day long event, and Stradivarius is the early favourite (6/4) for this year’s edition, but what are his chances of completing the back-to-back haul?
The odds certainly suggest he is expected to taste victory again and after a stellar 2018, it’s hard to look past the Irish thoroughbred. He clinched victories in the Goodwood Cup as well as the Lonsdale Cup last year, and recently won the Yorkshire Cup for a second time (both times he was saddled by Frankie Dettori).
Stradivarius’ Red Hot Form
Stradivarius made his racecourse debut at Nottingham in what was his maiden race in 2016, where he finished fifth from nine runners over eight-and-a-half furlongs. To date, that is his lowest finish and his vast improvement since then has been something of a joy to behold. His next race at Newmarket saw him fair a little better with an admirable fourth-placed finish from ten runners, but November 2016 is when Stradivarius started to demonstrate his talents.
He was made favourite for the EBF Maiden Stake at Newcastle and truly obliged to the evens price, even though he finished by a head in front from Bowerman the win was enough to validate his credentials as one of the best colts on the circuit. In 2017, Stradivarius continued to go from strength to strength and completed victories in half of his six runs, including wins at Beverley, Ascot and the first of his Goodwood Cups.
2018 really was the year that Stradivarius made his mark, winning all five of his meetings which of course, included last year’s Gold Cup. His wins often generated favourable feedback from Dettori, who admitted after the win: “He was a lion, he fought everything off. The crowd lifted him. I just wanted to time it right. I come alive here, I love it.”
Stradivarius Gold Cup 2019
Stradivarius’ final win in 2018 drew more praise from Dettori, who won the British Champions Long Distance Cup with the four-year-old by one-and-a-half lengths from Thomas Hobson after a closely fought race. The win almost symbolised just how good Stradivarius was and how far he has come since his maiden run at Nottingham two years previous, and Dettori didn’t hold back in his praise.
“I had half a chance and took it, but you can only do that when you have plenty of horse. He’s been a model of consistency and owns the crown of being champion stayer – you can’t take it away from him. He’s all heart, this horse,” the jockey confirmed.
Stradivarius has only run once in 2019 so far, clinching his second Yorkshire Cup after he oversaw the challenge from Southern France, who finished three-quarters of a length behind. That made it six wins from his last six meetings and understandably, has seen him installed as the favourite to repeat his success at the Ascot Gold Cup.
It won’t be a stroll in the park for the five-year-old but he couldn’t be in better shape or form ahead of the prestigious race, and racing fans will have to wait patiently to see if he can make it back-to-back wins in the Gold Cup. The sensible thinking – and punting – suggests that he will make it successive victories and he and Dettori are making quite the double act. If you fancy Stradivarius to complete back-to-back wins, check out the Gold Cup market on Paddy Power with all the events available for Royal Ascot.