Early Return For Stradivarius in Sagaro


Stradivarius | Scoop Dyga

   Following the exploits of stablemate Palace Pier (GB) (Kingman {GB}) on Friday, the onus is on Clarehaven's longer-standing cult hero Stradivarius (Ire) (Sea the Stars {Ire}) to maintain the momentum for John and Thady Gosden in Wednesday's G3 Longines Sagaro S. at Ascot. Out earlier this year with some excess weight to shed ahead of his bid for a dream fourth G1 Gold Cup at the Royal meeting, the 7-year-old will be a warm order back in his favoured arena despite his 2020 campaign tailing off with a disappointing 12th in the course-and-distance G2 QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup in October. That uncharacteristic flop came on the back of two attempts at a mile and a half, with a narrow second to Anthony Van Dyck (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in the G2 Prix Foy at ParisLongchamp in September preceding a failed Arc tilt when seventh in deep ground in that  venue's showcase.

John Gosden is keen to stress that Bjorn Nielsen's beloved chestnut will strip fitter after this reintroduction. “He's a bigger, heavier horse this year so he may well need his first race,” he said. “If he needs another race, there's the [G2] Yorkshire Cup, but we'll see. He likes Ascot, obviously, and I feel the trip is right to start him off at two miles. He's a 7-year-old and he's weighing heavier, so to that extent he may need two races before the Gold Cup but we don't know yet. Age is becoming a bit of issue–maybe less so if he was a gelding, but he's a full horse. He seems happy in himself and is his usual vociferous self, so we're looking forward to running him.”

Of the two unplaced efforts that rounded off last season, he added, “Obviously the last two races were both run in exceptionally heavy ground. He wasn't in love with it. There was no pace in the Arc, then they sprinted. He ran very well in the Prix Foy and did nothing wrong before that.”

Successful in this last year when it was transferred to Newcastle's Tapeta, Nayef Road (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) has a third tilt at Stradivarius having finished runner-up in the Gold Cup and the G1 Goodwood Cup. “If Stradivarius comes back in the same form as last year, then he'll be extremely difficult to beat,” commented trainer Mark Johnston, who arguably has three stayers with which to take on the Gosden flag-bearer this year. “We've run some very good horses against Stradivarius and come second. That said, we've got a much stronger team this year and it's going to be very interesting to see. He did have a setback at the end of last season, but he seems to have got over it well and he's ready to run.”

Also on the card which acts as a sighter for certain Royal Ascot races is the G3 QIPCO British Champions Series horseracinghof.com Pavilion S., in which the G1 Middle Park S. hero Supremacy (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}) flexes his muscle ahead of the G1 Commonwealth Cup. Trainer Clive Cox said, “I'm delighted that it's this year and not last, with the chance to have a prep and not go to Ascot first time out. He's done really well, but this is very much his first step back and he comes to himself when it gets a bit warmer. I'm very happy we've got a chance to run on some quick ground. This is his first step back with a penalty. He's a wonderful horse and he's got such an amazing temperament for a sprinter, which is why I'm really pleased we've got a chance to have a trial race in the build-up to Royal Ascot. That is where we're looking for him to come to the boil 100%.”

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