History was made on day three of Royal Ascot 2020 as Stradivarius became only the third horse to win a hat-trick of Gold Cups following a breathtaking display of speed and stamina. His rivals were left toiling in his wake, leaving all who saw it reaching for the superlatives.
After previously winning ten races in a row, the 2018 and 2019 Gold Cup winner arrived to defend his crown having suffered two consecutive defeats. With the soft conditions not ideal, Stradivarius had a few questions to answer as he headed to the start for his date with destiny at Royal Ascot.
He answered in emphatic fashion, producing arguably the most impressive performance of his career by storming to a ten-length victory and a place alongside Sagaro and Yeats in the pantheon of Gold Cup legends to have won the race three years on the bounce.
Usually a horse who just does enough in his races, there was nothing understated about Stradivarius this time – he swaggered into the history books.
“It’s a wonderful feeling and I’m very proud of the horse,” said winning jockey Frankie Dettori.
“Maybe we’ll come back next year to try and equal Yeats’ record [of four Gold Cup wins]. I’ve ridden some great horses and he is one of them. He’s a real character and wears his heart on his sleeve and he’s great to be around.”
Trainer John Gosden paid tribute to his superstar stayer, revealing that Stradivarius wasn’t 100% happy on the rain-softened ground despite his stunning display.
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“He’s beaten some fabulous horses over the years and to come and do it again today is testament to the horse,” Gosden said.
“His favourite ground is Good to Firm but he has the heart and the class to win on any ground and he proved that today.”
The other stars of day three were jockey Jim Crowley and trainer Roger Varian, with both winning multiple races on Thursday.
Gold Cup Replay
Crowley extended his lead at the top of the QIPCO leading jockey standings with a double aboard Molatham (The Jersey Stakes) and Khaloosy (The Britannia Stakes), moving him onto six winners for the week with two days still to come.
Both of those winners were trained by Varian and they completed a memorable treble for him following Mountain Angel’s victory in the Wolferton Stakes under William Buick.
The regally bred Battleground’s impressive win in the Chesham Stakes marked him out as a horse to follow for the rest of the season, while the opening and closing handicaps were taken by Highland Chief (Rossa Ryan/Paul and Oliver Cole) and Onassis (Hayley Turner/Charlie Fellowes) respectively.
Turner’s victory on Onassis meant she has won back-to-back renewals of the Sandringham Stakes and the first female jockey to win twice at Royal Ascot. Her 2019 win on Thanks Be saw her become only the second female jockey to win at the Royal Meeting, and the first in 32 years.