Remarkable stayer Stradivarius became the first horse to win three consecutive editions of the Group 1 Qatar Goodwood Cup on the opening day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival.
Much of the build-up to Tuesday’s showpiece event surrounded Bjorn Nielsen’s homebred and whether his up-and-coming rivals would pose a danger to the five-year-old, winner of his previous seven races.
Frankie Dettori waited patiently on Stradivarius as the Tim Easterby-trained Wells Farhh Go scorched away in front under David Allan.
Dettori, who has proved to be a master tactician over the years, soon moved Stradivarius behind Cross Counter and had the perfect slipstream into the home straight behind the Melbourne Cup winner as Wells Farhh Go dropped away.
Asked for his effort, Stradivarius soon hit the front and showed the willing attitude that has come to be associated with his victories over the years. Mark Johnston’s resolute Dee Ex Bee stayed on towards the line but ultimately, he could not overturn the deficit.
Nielsen said: “Stradivarius is an amazing horse. He has a great will to win and is such a cool horse mentally. He is so relaxed, and I think that is why he is as good as he is, together with having an unbelievable trainer and brilliant jockey.
“This gets more nerve-wracking as you go on because you start to realise that it is becoming historic, like winning three Goodwood Cups in a row.
“A horse like Stradivarius comes along for very few people. I am very lucky.”
Remarkably, this was the first time that Dettori had partnered Stradivarius to victory in the Goodwood Cup, having been unavailable to ride him in his two previous successes. In 2017 and 2018, Stradivarius was ridden by fellow Italian Andrea Atzeni.
Dettori said: “It’s not good for the heart – after winning the King George on Saturday and now this on the two most popular and precious horses in training, and with the following they both have.
“I had the perfect race and followed the one I thought would be the biggest threat [Cross Counter]. He took me into race, and it was great to be behind him, otherwise I would have had to make my move earlier.
“A horse like Stradivarius comes along for very few people”
“He’s an amazing horse who wastes very little energy, is mentally tough and is never going to be flash and win by ten lengths, but he gets the job done. All I have to do is put him in the race and he does the rest. He’s a perfect partner.
“It’s important for the public to have a horse who stays in training for so long and keeps delivering and with Stradivarius you know what you are going to get – a fight. Which is why people love him.
“It’s nerve-wracking and exciting but I work for a great trainer in John Gosden who puts it on a plate for me. He and the staff should have all the credit.”
In the EBF Maiden Stakes immediately after the Goodwood Cup, Dettori was back in the winner’s enclosure having guided the John Quinn-trained Cobra Eye to success in the 6f contest.
Owned by Phoenix Thoroughbred, the son of Kodiac was second on debut at Haydock last month and just held off the challenge of Ryan Moore and the Mark Johnston-trained Fuwayrit to register a first career victory.
Pinatubo remains unbeaten
Pinatubo underlined why he is the most exciting two-year-old in training when he bounded to a devastating five-length success in the Group 2 Qatar Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.
Since making his debut at Wolverhampton in May, Pinatubo has progressed with every run and his first Pattern victory ensured that he remains unbeaten in four starts this year, which also includes an eye-catching win in last month’s Listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The manner of his win suggests there is plenty more to come from the Godolphin homebred and his trainer Charlie Appleby said: “You really can’t get excited watching him on the gallops in the mornings, but it’s what he does in the afternoons on the racecourse that is so special.
“We’ve seen acceleration on his three most recent starts – when you think of what he did at Epsom, when a horse got loose on the front end and was always going to come back, but he showed great acceleration that day and again at Royal Ascot.
“He’s a horse who takes his racing so well, so I wouldn’t want to put a bar to say that after the National we’d pull up or that we might run him again in the Dewhurst Stakes. We’ll take one step at a time but after retiring Blue Point, I’ve been looking for another good one and may have found him.”
Pinatubo looks to be another top prospect for his sire Shamardal, who will have his multiple Group 1-winning son Blue Point stand alongside him at Darley’s Kildangan Stud in 2019.
Sir Dancealot does it again
Sir Dancealot became the first horse since Nayyir in 2002 and 2003 to secure back-to-back victories in the Group 2 Lennox Stakes at Goodwood.
Trained by David Elsworth, Sir Dancealot had overcome a difficult passage to gain a last-gasp success in the contest a year ago but this year, under regular jockey Gerald Mosse, the passage was much smoother.
The Andrew Balding-trained Donjuan Triumphant set the fractions early on and as the field entered the final two furlongs, Mosse and Sir Dancealot weaved their way through to the outside of the pack. Once clear, they scooted away to win by a length from Hey Gaman in second and Suedois in third.
It was a first winner for Elsworth since April and the trainer said: “It’s lovely to win this race again with Sir Dancealot. He was pretty good today. He took it up a furlong out and didn’t look like getting caught.
“Sir Dancealot has contested all the six- and seven-furlong races over the last couple of years. He won the Rockingham as a two-year-old and has always been a very good horse.
“That is our first winner since April [when Dandhu won the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes]. It has been a bit of a famine for everyone in the yard, but one or two horses have been running alright.
“We haven’t lost our nerve and it is great for these owners to have another big winner.”
Green Power ends losing run
In the competitive Chelsea Barracks Handicap, the John Gallagher-trained gelding recorded a first victory since August last year to snatch the win from the Ruth Carr-trained Poyle Vinnie.
That was the first leg of a double on the day for PJ McDonald, fresh from guiding Laurens to success in the Group 1 Prix Rothschild, and the second leg came in when he teamed up with Charlie Fellowes on board Maid For Life in the Unibet Fillies’ Handicap.