Gosden cautious as Stradivarius tilts for more royal glory at Ascot

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Frankie Dettori celebrates with the trophy - and a famous face - after winning his second Gold Cup on John Gosden's Stradivarius in 2019
Frankie Dettori celebrates with the trophy - and a famous face - after winning his second Gold Cup on John Gosden's Stradivarius in 2019

By James Toney

John Gosden is praying for sunshine and no showers as he tilts at history and more success at Royal Ascot.

It's more than four decades since a British trainer won a consecutive hat-trick of top trainer titles at the meeting but Gosden has big ambitions again.

John and son Thady, in their first season training in partnership, sent out four winners 12 months ago, while he landed six on his own at the behind closed doors event in 2020.

That takes Gosden's overall success at the royal meeting to 59, with only Aidan O'Brien and Sir Michael Stoute ahead of him among current trainers.

Working with your family would be a nightmare for many but the Gosdens have turned their professional and personal relationship into a money-making machine - famously scooping £4 million in prize money on a single day just weeks after starting their partnership last year.

However, 2021 was arguably best remembered for a defeat not a win, as Frankie Dettori and Stradivarius failed to emulate the record of the legendary Yeats and win a fourth consecutive Ascot Gold Cup.

But the old campaigners are back as Stradivarius, 30 in human years, and Dettori, 51 in actual years, take one last swing at the showpiece.

“It is one thing training an eight-year-old gelding and another thing training an eight-year-old full horse, but Stradivarius is happy and well and I hope the weather holds up for him," said Gosden.

“He runs how he runs and knows how to race. He doesn’t like being left with too much to do but on the other hand if you get there too soon, that is not a good idea either. He is an old pro now.

“I think he is still up to running a huge race in the Gold Cup, as long as the ground is not soft or heavy.

"He was probably in his prime at five or six, but at eight you have to face the fact it could be like a boxer getting back in the ring too late in their career. But he seems up for it at the moment."

As expected, the Gosdens have another crack squad assembled with Royal Ascot winner Lord North aimed at the Prince of Wales's Stakes and Inspiral ready to take on Irish 1000 Guineas winner Homeless Songs in a fascinating Coronation Stakes.

Gosden will also make a late call on whether to run Emily Upjohn - who would have surely won the Oaks at a canter at Epsom but for a stuttering start - at the Ribblesdale Stakes on Thursday.

“The Oaks and Ribblesdale are tight enough time wise, that’s for sure, but Emily Upjohn could run," he added. "It is a very important race and I have won it before with fillies who have run in the Oaks.

“If she doesn’t run here, you are then waiting until the end of July for a couple of options."

It could be some Thursday for Gosden with old star Stradivarius and rising star Emily Upjohn in the spotlight but arguably the biggest story could be a winner for Royal Ascot's undisputed top A-lister on Ladies' Day.

Nothing receives a bigger cheer here than when the Queen's famous silks are first past the post and Gosden trains her big hope for the week, as Reach For The Moon in the Hampton Court Stakes looks to score his famous owner a 25th Royal Ascot winner.

“He has pleased us in his work since his last race – he has gone nicely – and we are very happy with him," adds Gosden.

“It would be amazing to give Her Majesty a winner and we hope he goes there with a very nice chance.”

 

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