Stradivarius: It's Not Goodbye, Just Farewell, Until The Next Time

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Stradivarius, Coltrane, Kyprios and Trueshan battle home in an epic Goodwood Cup | Racingfotos.com

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GOODWOOD, UK–The banner on Trundle Hill overlooking Goodwood read, 'Thank You Stradivarius'. Inside the racecourse the message was repeated on branded flags, readied to wave him on his way. But it would seem that Stradivarius is not for retiring. And hurrah to that. 

It is almost poetic, in a bloodstock kinda way, that two of the best horses of the modern era, Derby-winning half-brothers no less, should feature in an epic battle between their two sons for a race that was so much more than just the Goodwood Cup. 

For Stradivarius (Ire), a son of Sea The Stars (Ire), Goodwood was in a sense where it all began. Sure, he'd won races on the way to his first Goodwood Cup victory five years ago, three in fact, but in his first foray into Group 1 company he sprang to wider attention when quashing the chances of fan favourite Big Orange (GB). Stradivarius returned, year after year, and as popular as Persian Punch (Ire), to win four Goodwood Cups, until the weather gods put a halt to all that last July with a deluge of such force that he remained in his stable. 

Now there's a new kid on the block, one half his age, and doing an excellent job this season to keep the name of his late sire Galileo (Ire) in lights. Kyprios (Ire), who is equally an important totem for his breeder Moyglare Stud as they celebrate their sixtieth anniversary, is now unbeaten in his four starts this year. He is indubitably the rising star in the galaxy of stayers, now with a Goodwood Cup to add to his Gold Cup. But at Goodwood, he was also to a degree the pantomime villain.

It started with a ripple of applause that followed Stradivarius along the grandstand as he strode out on the track to go to post. Then, turning for home, as he ducked and weaved in a desperate search for daylight through the pack the roar started, with only one horse's name on the lips of the crowd: “Go on, Strad.”

Go on he did, his lionheart and the rousing cheers of thousands driving him briefly, narrowly, to the head of the challenge. But Kyprios, who had led the charge into the straight, dug deep for a turbo-charged final effort in the manner of the champion stayer he will now surely be. 

Stradivarius has been there, done that, but he is certainly no has-been. As he returned to the winner's enclosure, he clearly considered it somewhat infra dig to be led towards the unfamiliar spot for the runner-up. The sudden squeal and buck he let out as he was clapped back in seemed to say, “Didn't you see me out there, how hard I tried?”

Certainly his owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen did. Inevitably, as much of the post-race fanfare centred on Stradivarius as it did on Kyprios, and Nielsen, clearly dismayed by the flags handed out around the racecourse foreshadowing his hero's retirement, was adamant in his appraisal.

“He's run a great race. He could have won, he got beaten a neck, but he won't stop on that, I'll just say that. This is not his last race, as long as he comes out of it well.”

As to future plans, Nielsen took a swipe at the Doncaster Cup, staged on an Arena Racing Company track, and suggested York as the most likely next stop.

“There's no prize-money at Doncaster, so you can tell ARC that unless they double their prize-money he'll never go back to Doncaster,” he said. “But there's the Lonsdale, potentially. Then soft ground starts in October so it gets a bit more difficult, but let's see how he comes back. But I'd say he'll run again, in spite of all this 'Thank you Stradivarius'. We're not going to say goodbye, not when he is at the top of his game and ran like that today.”

The winner, given a trouble-free passage through the next 12 months, should certainly be back next year. Just four, and the tenth foal of the remarkable Moyglare matriarch Polished Gem (Ire) (Danehill), Kyprios now has six wins to show for his light racing campaign to date and is a progressive force for Moyglare and the Coolmore partners. 

Reflecting on Polished Gem, the dam of eight black-type winners, including Kyprios's fellow Group 1 winners Search For A Song (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and Free Eagle (Ire) (High Chaparral {Ire}), Moyglare Stud's breeding advisor Fiona Craig said, “She's amazing. I said to someone just now there was never any skill breeding Polished Gem. Look at what she went to, and look at what she produced. She was just one of those mares that I think we could have bred to anything. We built up to Galileo but obviously that made perfect sense when he became available and with her being by Danehill. We've had four by Galileo–Amma Grace, Falcon Eight, Search For A Song and now this horse.”

She added, “That was a great race. I think next year we'll have to make our own flags saying 'Come on, Kyprios'. But Stradivarius is a fine horse and he lost nothing in that. For a moment you thought he was going to be swallowed up but then he was right there, and Trueshan as well. There's a great bunch of stayers in training and I think Kyprios will go on.”

Indeed he will, and Stradivarius will go on with him, for the time being at least. 

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