Super Stradivarius makes history with stunning third Royal Ascot Gold Cup triumph

Marcus Armytage
The Telegraph
Frankie Dettori celebrates an historic third Gold Cup for Stradivarius - GETTY IMAGES
Frankie Dettori celebrates an historic third Gold Cup for Stradivarius - GETTY IMAGES

There might not have been an official Royal Procession at Royal Ascot this year but that is what Stradivarius turned his third Gold Cup into when he ran his rivals ragged to skip home 10 lengths clear and prove himself in a completely different league the rest of the current or, indeed, most past crops of stayers.

If they ever come to celebrate the achievements of Stradivarius in a life-size statue it will not cost them much in bronze, but the cheeky little chestnut has now taken his place among the all-time staying greats.

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With Thursday’s demolition job, the widest margin win of his career, the six-year-old joined Sagaro (1975, 76, 77) and Yeats (2006, 07, 08, 09) as the only horses in the race’s 213-year history to win it more than twice.       

Frankie Dettori has ridden 69 winners at Ascot, eight of them in the Gold Cup. But rarely can he have been travelling so well two out on any of them as he was on Bjorn Nielsen’s homebred in behind the front-running Nayef Road.

Indeed turning into the straight the jockey was looking round to make sure he had those behind him covered and, aware that he had, for a furlong sat motionless in behind the leader, just waiting for the moment to pounce. When he said ‘go’ Stradivarius went past Nayef Road like last year’s Leger third had just developed roots.

Mark Johnston’s four-year-old plugged on for second, eight lengths clear of Cross Counter as they came in at roughly five-minute intervals.

Given the weather there were probably quite a lot of people, who might normally have been at Ascot, pleased to have been watching on television but, actually, this made you crave to be there. Performances like that deserve an audience.

In the pre-parade before Stradivarius had tried to intimidate his rivals by, well, I suppose in human terms, dropping his trousers. But as soon as the saddle goes on he stops his games and becomes the ultimate professional racehorse.

“It’s an amazing achievement to win three in a row like Sagaro and Yeats,” said Dettori. “Three in a row was always the plan. John was right to give him a prep in the Coronation. I thought the rain had gone against him but I was surprised four out when I looked under my arm and saw them all in trouble behind me. I’m very proud of the horse and perhaps he will come back to match Yeats next year.

“The thing is in ground like that, they can die in your hands so until I pressed the button I wasn’t counting my chickens, but when he took off it was a joy. I’ve ridden some great horses and he’s my best stayer, he’s been phenomenal, he’s given people such joy. He’s such a character and wears his heart on his sleeve.

“I was worried about the ground but he went through like a hot knife through butter.  Even though there’s no crowd I’m quite emotional. To think when I’m in a rocking chair that I’ll be able to say I rode a three-time Gold Cup winner, I’m very proud.”

Stradivarius ridden by Frankie Dettori wins his third Gold Cup - GETTY IMAGES
Stradivarius ridden by Frankie Dettori wins his third Gold Cup - GETTY IMAGES

John Gosden has achieved many things in his time as a trainer but, when he, too, is in his rocking chair, he may look back and think that keeping the balance between playtime and race time for Stradivarius was one of his great achievements.

“I thought Frankie was laying out of his ground until three out,” he said half-joking that it had not been an entirely enjoyable watch. “Then he started looking under his arms and elbows.

“It was a superb performance. The benefit of running in the Coronation was that he was fully fit. The worry was the ‘bounce factor’ (when they run flat if there is a short gaps between their first and second runs) but he was very full of himself being saddled so I knew we had that covered.

“I’m particularly proud for his owner-breeder. It’s his passion. He’s been trying to breed a Derby winner but he’s got a very good Cup horse. We’ve been on the phone before and since, a lot. He’ll go to Goodwood next to try and win the Goodwood Cup a fourth time and maybe have a crack at the Arc in autumn ground. Next year is entirely up to Bjorn.”

04:00 PM

Super Hayley Turner

Turner became the first woman jockey in 32 years to ride a Royal Ascot winner at last year's meeting... and she's just doubled it up! Two in two years.

Our chief sports writer Paul Hayward spoke to her earlier this week: Hayley Turner interview: 'Being a girl in a man's world has never been an issue for me'

03:58 PM

4.40pm result

  1. Onassis 33/1

  2. Waliyak 4/1

  3. Dubai Love 8/1

03:57 PM

Onassis wins!

Finally, this race gets underway, 15 minutes late. Dubai Love tears out of the stalls for an early lead from Al Rasmah. Odyssey Girl starts to move into contention, but can't get past Dubai Love. Can any of them? It looks like Onassis is the one to do so. And it's another victory for jockey Hayley Turner! She won this last year and she's won it again at 33/1!

03:50 PM

Still we wait

The runners are only just arriving at the start.

03:40 PM

Time to get a watch

They are running very late for this race because the horses are still in the paddock. Three non-runners means a field of 15. But don't expect it to start anywhere near on time.

03:36 PM

Here are your odds

  • African Dream 2/1

  • Waliyak 7/2

  • Declared Interest 13/2

  • Soffika 8/1

  • Dubai Love 17/2

  • Huboor 10/1

  • Al Rasmah 20/1

  • Odyssey Girl 25/1

03:34 PM

Race 7 preview - 4.40pm

4.40pm - Sandringham Stakes (1m 3yo 0-105 Fillies Handicap)

Jockey Kieran O’Neill has been handed a golden opportunity for a Royal Ascot winner with AFRICAN DREAM, who is officially 16lb ‘well-in’ for her recent second placing at Newbury. Declared Interest also looks well-treated under a 5lb penalty, and can feature in the finish. Kalsara can find improvement stepped up to a mile, and can outrun her big price. Festive Star should improve this year, and can run into a place back on better ground. 

Marcus Armytage's tip:  Declared Interest 

03:31 PM

Jim on fire

There's no stopping Jim Crowley this week. Six winners and we're not even three days down.

03:23 PM

4.10pm result

  1. Khaloosy 9/2

  2. Finest Sound 11/4

  3. Cherokee Trail 16/1

  4. Enemy 6/1

03:21 PM

Khaloosy wins! 

Off they go. There are 22 of them for this and they are all in one big group down the middle of the straight course. Kondratiev Wave is one of the early leaders but soon loses position as Khaloosy and Finest Sound break clear from the pack with two furlongs to run. Khaloosy's turn of foot is sensational and it's yet another win for Jim Crowley!

03:07 PM

Odds for the Britannia Stakes

Remember all bookies are donating profits from this race to charity.

  • Finest Sound 11/4

  • Verboten, Khaloosy 5/1

  • Enemy 8/1

  • Great Ambassador 11/1

  • Starcat, Dubai Mirage 12/1

  • Path Of Thunder 18/1

  • Ziggle Pops 20/1

02:59 PM

Back next year?

Frankie Dettori speaks:

The rain was against him because he has a tremendous turn of foot. I was actually surprised at the four-furlong marker that everyone was in trouble. It was just a matter of getting balanced and he just took off. I''m very proud of the horse. Perhaps we'll try for the Yeats record next year. I've ridden some great horses and he'll go down as one of the great stayers.

02:54 PM

Race 6 preview - 4.10pm

4.10pm - Britannia Stakes (1m 3yo 0-105 Colts & Geldings Handicap)

Fascinating contest with some very promising, unexposed three-year-old colts coming forward. FINEST SOUND (Nap) looks very well treated with just a 5lb penalty to shoulder for his recent Haydock romp, and he looks the one to beat. Enemy should relish the extra furlong, and can feature in the finish. 2000 Guineas seventh Starcat looks well treated off a rating of 94, and can go well if there is enough pace around him on the far side.

Marcus Armytage's tip: Johan

02:49 PM

The hat-trick hero

Stradivarius: a true staying legend. 2018. 2019. 2020.

And Frankie Dettori celebrates with a flying dismount.

02:48 PM

3.35pm result

  1. Stradivarius 4/5

  2. Nayef Road 11/1

  3. Cross Counter 7/1

Feast your eyes on this:

02:45 PM

That. Was. Outstanding

02:44 PM

Stradivarius wins!

Off they go. Mekong was very slow out of the stalls and has given the others a few lengths from the outset. Long way to go though. It's single file as they head out for a full circuit with Nayef Road showing the way from Withhold and Moonlight Spirit. Stradivarius is settled in fifth. They are very strung out with a mile to run, but no change in the order. Things start to bunch up with four furlongs to go. And here comes Stradivarius. Frankie looks totally at ease onboard. Into fourth, then third, then second. Frankie hasn't even moved. Only Nayef Road stands in front of him. And he destroys him in a flash! WHAT A VICTORY! He's won be an absolute mile!!!!

02:37 PM

Stradivarius at the ready

They are running a few minutes late and still yet to start loading the stalls.

02:31 PM

Gold Cup preview

Just enough time to send you in the direction of Marcus Armytage's Gold Cup preview. You can read the whole thing here and here is a snippet:

Apart from Stradivarius' potent ability at any trip between two and two-and-a-half miles, it his style of racing, never expending more energy than necessary, which has been key to his winning the short-lived (due to him) Weatherbys-Lonsdale £1 million stayers bonus for the past two years – winning a big staying race once a month for four months was considered beyond most horses – and, last year, the old stayers triple crown.

The only negatives, after winning 10 races on the bounce, are that he has lost his last two; the Champions Long Distance Cup against Kew Gardens, on the nod, on ground which he did not like and, perfectly excusably, the Coronation Cup over a mile and a half, his warm-up for this. Time will probably tell that getting within five lengths of Ghaiyyath over a mile and a half was a smart effort and the defeat to Kew Gardens did not appear to leave a mark.

02:24 PM

Big race odds

  • Stradivarius 10/11

  • Technician 3/1

  • Cross Counter 9/1

  • Moonlight Spirit 11/1

  • Nayef Road 14/1

  • Mekong 25/1

  • Prince Of Arran 40/1

  • Withhold 50/1

Take your chance courtesy of these Royal Ascot betting offers.

02:21 PM

Time for excitement

I can confirm from the ITV Racing footage of the pre-parade ring that Stradivarius is indeed getting, ahem, rather frisky. 

02:16 PM

Marlborough's horse-by-horse guide

1. Cross Counter: Twice beaten by Stradivarius in Group 1s, but those two defeats are arguably some of the strongest pieces of form on offer. Massive place chance.

2. Mekong: Good: Second in a $1.5 million 1m7f handicap in Saudi Arabia for new trainer Jamie Osborne. Can be slow from the gate. Outside chance.

3. Prince Of Arran: Dual Group 3 winner, but appears to thrive on his travels. Plenty to find with some of these on his UK form; best watched.

4. Stradivarius: Dual Ascot Gold Cup winner going in search of a historic third win in the race. Vulnerable on soft ground, but otherwise hard to fault.

5. Withhold: Needs to step up an awful lot from his Newcastle reappearance. Very capable on his day, but likely to come up short here.

6. Moonlight Spirit: Progressive at staying distances last year. William Buick’s chosen mount over Cross Counter. Massive task on his hands for his first start of the year.

7. Nayef Road: Has had the benefit of a run and the sole representative of Mark Johnston, who has a good record in the race. Big each-way chance.

8. Technician: Will need as much rain as he can get. Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak winner on his last start of 2019. Big ask on his first run of the year.

02:12 PM

Race 5 preview - 3.35pm

3.35pm - Gold Cup (2m4f 4yo+ Group 1)

STRADIVARIUS looks very much the one to beat as he goes in search of a historic third Gold Cup. A lot will depend on how much rain falls between now and race time. If the ground does not go too soft, he can win this for John Gosden, Frankie Dettori and Bjorn Nielsen. Nayef Road can take a good step forward from his Sagaro Stakes win and chase him home, with 2018 Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter also looking likely to feature in the finish.

Marcus Armytage's tip: Stradivarius

02:09 PM

Time for the big one

02:07 PM

3pm result

  1. Battleground 11/4

  2. March Law 18/1

  3. Seattle Rock 80/1

02:06 PM

Battleground wins!

Off they go. There was plenty of late money for First Prophet, who sits at the rear early on, with March Law showing the way from Clarendon Cross. So they continue into the final three furlongs. March Law still leads with two to go. Here comes Battleground to lay down the challenge, take the lead and he will take the win from March Law.

02:01 PM

Great photo

h - GETTY IMAGES
h - GETTY IMAGES

01:54 PM

How many winners so far Jim Crowley?

f - GETTY IMAGES
f - GETTY IMAGES

 And guess what - it's stopped raining.

01:53 PM

The odds

Just the eight two-year-olds line up for this one, all with racecourse experience of just one outing earlier this month. These are effectively the stayers of the future. Here are your odds:

  • Battleground 11/4

  • Modern News, Golden Flame 4/1

  • Bright Devil, First Prophet 9/2

  • Clarendon Cross 20/1

  • March Law 25/1

  • Seattle Rock 66/1

01:41 PM

Race 4 preview - 3pm

3.00pm - Chesham Stakes (7f 2yo Listed)

This race looks a straight clash between Godolphin & Coolmore, with MODERN NEWS looking to have the edge on his debut win at Newmarket on 1000 Guineas day. He should relish the step up to seven furlongs and give Charlie Appleby a second consecutive win in the race. Battleground looked badly in need of the experience on his debut at Naas; he can take a big step up here, and should also appreciate another furlong.

Marcus Armytage's tip:  First Prophet

01:33 PM

Here's how it was won

01:32 PM

2.25pm result

  1. Malatham 11/2

  2. Monarch Of Egypt 4/1

  3. Symbolize 40/1

Another win for jockey Jim Crowley and a third victory in four races for trainer Roger Varian.

01:31 PM

Molatham wins! 

And they're off. This is a 7f trip on the straight course and they are all staying together in one group down the middle. Lord Of The Lodge sets a brisk gallop at the front from King Of Athens. Molatham and Monarth Of Egypt emerge from the pack to battle it out with a furlong to go. The two of them stretch clear and there's going to be little to choose between them... but Molatham prevails.

01:18 PM

How to do Ladies Day from home

Today is of course meant to be Ladies Day. In honour, we have put together this video on how to join in from afar.

01:13 PM

Here are your odds

  • King Leonidas 5/2

  • Celestin 10/3

  • Monarch of Egypt 4/1

  • Final Song, Molatham 7/1

  • Ropey Guest 20/1

  • Lord of the Lodge, Mystery Power 22/1

  • Symbolize 40/1

01:02 PM

Race 3 preview - 2.25pm

2.25pm - Jersey Stakes (7f 3yo Group 3)

A race that has historically been kind to Guineas runners and fillies in recent years. FINAL SONG (Nb) fits the bill nicely, and looks to hold an excellent each-way chance in an open renewal of the race following on from her good fourth placing in the 1000 Guineas. Monarch Of Egypt encountered plenty of traffic last time and should appreciate the drop in grade here. Repartee should appreciate the stiffer test of stamina, and could run into a place.

Marcus Armytage's tip: King Leonidas

01:00 PM

Tough going

ITV Racing's Matt Chapman reports asking Frankie Dettori whether it was soft or worse out there. The reply? "Worse."

12:56 PM

Doyle the destroyer

A cracking ride from James Doyle here. Hugs the inside rail and seizes his chance to pounce when everyone else left it too late.

12:55 PM

1.50pm result

  • Mountain Angel 8/1

  • Sir Dragonet 15/8

  • Regal Reality 11/2

12:54 PM

Mountain Angel wins!

Three non-runners leaves a field of 13 and it is Forest Ranger who takes the early lead alongside Prince Eiji. Sir Dragonet is held up near the back. No change as they pass halfway and then head for home. Prince Eiji takes up proceedings entering the straight and sets for home. Mountain Angel sneaks past on the inside though, nicks a length and then streaks clear. Sir Dragonet finishes fast round the outside for second, but he never had a hope of catching the winner.

12:49 PM

Out in the rain

f - PA
f - PA

12:42 PM

Here are your odds

  • Sir Dragonet 2/1

  • Fox Tal 11/4

  • Regal Reality, King Ottokar, Crossed Baton 9/1

  • Mountain Angel 11/1

  • Dream Castle 22/1

  • Forest Ranger, Prince Eiji 25/1

Got a strong fancy? These Royal Ascot betting offers give you a chance to take advantage of some free bets.

12:38 PM

Only getting wetter

At the risk of labouring the point: it's still properly hammering it down at Ascot. The verdict of the jockeys after that opener: "This is proper soft ground".

12:28 PM

Race 2 preview - 1.50pm

1.50pm - Wolferton Stakes (1m2f 4yo+ Listed)

FOX TAL could have easily gone to the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes off the back of his Champion Stakes effort last year, and instead comes here; he can take advantage of an easier opening and prove very hard to beat. Sir Dragonet can run very well without necessarily winning. Any rain would enhance the each-way claims of Extra Elusive and King Ottokar, who can both run well from good draws.

Marcus Armytage's tip: Fox Tal

12:20 PM

1.15pm result

  1. Highland Chief 20/1

  2. Tritonic 9/1

  3. Global Storm 7/2

12:18 PM

Highland Chief wins!

And they're off for the first race. Grand Rock takes the early lead from Tritonic and Yoshimi as the rain continues to fall. They are fairly well strung out by the halfway stage and Grand Rock continues to lead into the home straight. Is he pulling away? Yes he is. Three furlongs to go, two to go, one to go. Can Grand Rock hang on? No he can't! Tritonic and Highland Chief emerge from the pack out wide and it will be a battle between those two... with Highland Chief taking the win.

12:07 PM

Testing ground

It's still raining heavily at Ascot, just as it has been for a long time now. This ground is going to be very testing.

12:01 PM

Betting for the opener

  • Global Storm 4/1

  • Maori Knight 9/2

  • Hypothetical, Acquitted 5/1

  • Tritonic 8/1

  • Grand Rock, Highland Chief 14/1

  • Cepheus, Ya Hayati, Bronze River 20/1

11:52 AM

Race 1 preview - 1.15pm

For every race at Royal Ascot, we will bring you our tipster Marlborough's preview, along with our racing correspondent Marcus Armytage's selection.

1.15pm - Golden Gates Handicap (1m2f 3yo 0-105 Handicap)

GLOBAL STORM looked in need of the run when winning a 1m2f handicap at Newmarket, and can shoulder a 5lb penalty to victory here. His main danger is Hypothetical, who is well drawn for Frankie Dettori and whose Kempton form is working out well; he has plenty more to offer. Tritonic can be given another chance at this trip for trainer Alan King, whose only runner at Royal Ascot so far has been a winner.

Marcus Armytage's tip: Highland Chief

11:47 AM

Pre-reading

There's one piece I want to fling your way before we turn our attention to today's first race and it's this by Marcus Armytage: 'I've loved every minute of it': Johnny Weatherby ends 23 years at Ascot without a deserved fanfare. Here's a snippet:

After the last race on Saturday Johnny Weatherby’s 23 years as a trustee of Ascot, including a 10 years stint as chairman and 10 years as Her Majesty’s Representative, will come to an end, much like the rest of this year’s Royal meeting, without a single trumpet let alone fanfare.

If Weatherby’s genial character is reflected in that almost quarter of a century of involvement in Ascot it is that he leaves it a much friendlier, customer-centric place than he found it.

11:40 AM

If you're only betting on one race today...

... make it the Britannia Stakes at 4.10pm.

11:26 AM

Four in a row

Oh and on the subject of Frankie... he did this on this day last year:

11:21 AM

Leading jockey

The battle to be leading jockey remains close after two days. Jim Crowley added another victory yesterday after his hat-trick on day one, while James Doyle and Ryan Moore are on two wins apiece.

But check out the odds of Frankie Dettori's rides today:

  • 5/1

  • 9/1

  • 9/4

  • 4/1

  • 4/5

  • 4/1

  • 9/2

He only has one winner to his name so far, but today might not be too shabby for him.

Moore is currently 5/4 to be overall leading jockey, Crowley 2/1, Dettori 3/1 and Doyle 10/1.

11:09 AM

Wet, wet, wet

Good morning and welcome to a very soggy day three at Ascot. The forecast rain never materialised yesterday but it arrived in abundance overnight and has continued all morning. That meant the official going was changed to 'good to soft' earlier this morning, but the updated news is this:

How much impact will that have? Well, the first thing to say is that it is still raining so there will be no drying out of the surface any time soon. The first two days have shown a clear advantage to the stands side on the straight course, but the bias shown by jockeys to that side means it will likely be more cut up now and could potentially have soaked in more rain than the fresher far side of the course, negating any advantage there may have been.

The rain could also have a big impact on the hopes of Stradivarius, the big-name favourite bidding to complete a Gold Cup hat-trick today. It is thought the extra tackiness in the ground will not suit him and his trainer John Gosden had this to say on ITV's Opening Show earlier:

There's little you can do about it but he loves to cruise … on fast summer ground and then put in that electrifying turn of foot which deals with his opponents. I think it's a bit what Muhammad Ali said, he won't be able to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee today, I'm afraid with the ground, it's more likely to be rope-a-dope.

We will be running, we're not going to disappoint people. He's on his way down on the van now. Last year [on] Champions Day was a huge decision to run, that again was very soft ground, we actually used the hurdles course which hadn't been raced on since the previous National Hunt season. He's not the same horse on that, it's more of a slog and he can't show that same ability to quicken after two miles. He got chinned there, but look, we're game on.

That headline act comes at 3.35pm and is the fifth of seven races from Ascot today.

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