Dubai: A mouth-watering clash between Stradivarius and Cross Counter, arguably two of the best stayers in the world, has greater significance following the former’s consummate victory in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup, the showpiece race on the final day of the Dante Festival at York Racecourse in North Yorkshire, England.
Ridden by Frankie Dettori for the legendary John Gosden, Stradivarius made light of the three-pound penalty for Group 1 wins, to display his trademark late burst and to deny Ryan Moore and Southern France.
Held up for most of the 2,800 metre trip run on good to firm ground on the Knavesmire, the defending champion was sent to the front by his rider at the top of the straight and battled well when challenged for a ¾ length victory.
Twelve months ago Stradivarius went on to become the first Ascot Gold Cup (G1) winner to go through a full season unbeaten for 50 years and Gosden confirmed that his stable star would continue on the same path with the showpiece race on Ladies Day at the Royal meeting being his next target.
“It was a lovely performance,” Gosden told Racing TV.
“He looked a little ring-rusty early in the straight but he can do that now as he is aware he is still a full stallion, which he was letting us know sadly.
“Frankie had to slightly concentrate his mind but he finished out very well and this is the minimum distance for him I think.
“It was a very steady pace and a bit of a dash. It was a bit sharp for him but I’m thrilled he got there. He has not been trained hard for this,” the trainer concluded.
British bookmakers cut Stradivarius’ odds to 6-4 (from 9-4) for the Gold cup, where he is expected to meet Godolphin’s Melbourne Cup and Dubai Gold Cup winner, Cross Counter (11-2).
Godolphin’s Ispolini, ridden by James Doyle for trainer Charlie Appleby, was widely tipped to be the main threat to Stradivarius, but the Dubai Gold Cup runner-up failed to match the front runners for pace and could only finish fourth of eight.
However, Doyle was not denied a share of the limelight on the final day at York, having earlier ridden Magnetic Charm in the colours of the Queen to a narrow victory in the Oaks Farm Stables Fillies’ Stakes at York.