Three outstanding stayers produced a compelling drama through the final three furlongs of the Goodwood Cup here on Tuesday and though Stradivarius came up a neck short in his attempt to win the race for the fifth time, he did more than enough to keep him on the track for another race at least.
“We are not going to say goodbye, not when he is at the top of his game and ran like that today,” Bjorn Nielsen, Stradivarius’s owner, said after his narrow defeat by Kyprios. “We will go on for at least one more.”
A head-to-head between Stradivarius and Trueshan, the most successful stayers of recent years, on ground that suited the pair of them had been postponed several times over the past couple of seasons, because the going was either too fast or too slow.
When it finally arrived, neither horse had quite enough to overhaul Kyprios, after Ryan Moore felt last month’s Ascot Gold Cup winner into a narrow lead well over a quarter of a mile out. But few of those watching from the stands will ever forget the thrill of watching them try.
Trueshan and Hollie Doyle were first to challenge Kyprios, the 6-4 favourite, on his outside, before a roar swept through the crowd as Andrea Atzeni moved Stradivarius into a position to challenge towards the far rail. He was within half a length of the leader at the furlong pole and pressed him all the way to the line, but Kyprios showed a champion’s courage to keep him at bay.
The focus was on the horses rather than their riders afterwards, a refreshing change after the Gold Cup when Frankie Dettori, Stradivarius’s regular jockey, had a troubled run aboard the eight‑year‑old which cost him the ride here. Nielsen, though, did hint that Dettori might be back on board if Stradivarius heads for the Lonsdale Stakes at York next month.
“York would be on the cards,” Nielsen said. “The long straight there suits him. Frankie has handled him well there and I don’t know if he will ride, I need to discuss that with the trainer. It was classy from Frankie to come out before the race and wish Andrea luck after all these years.”
This may prove have been Stradivarius’s last meeting with Kyprios, whose next race is likely to be the Irish St Leger in September, but Aidan O’Brien’s four-year-old seems likely to be a dominant force in the staying division for several seasons to eat.
“He is only ever in the gear that you want him,” O’Brien said. “He is always keeping plenty and he is a horse that loves a battle. I’d say there’s a lot more to come, he loves racing and it’s easy on himself. Those type of horses are very special, a horse who stays like that and has that class.”
Soft Whisper can make loud noise
With Baaeed sure to set off at prohibitive odds for the Sussex Stakes on the second afternoon at Glorious Goodwood, the Group Three Oak Tree Stakes makes more appeal from a betting perspective as 17 fillies and mares are due to go to post and the market is struggling to find a favourite.
Heredia and Soft Whisper are the obvious candidates, and the former’s smooth success in the Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot is the strongest piece of recent form on offer.
Richard Hannon’s filly surrendered her unbeaten record when odds-on at Sandown Park 15 days later, however, and while she was possibly feeling the effects of three races in quick succession, punters can be forgiven for wondering if a 25-day break is enough to freshen her up.
As a result, the steadily-progressive Soft Whisper (2.25), a Listed winner last time, makes more appeal at around 9-2. She has a high draw to contend with but Saeed bin Suroor’s filly is the only confirmed frontrunner in the field and will be tough to pass if Marco Ghiani can get her out and across towards the rail from stall 16.
Goodwood 1.50 Secret State will be a popular choice to follow up his win at the Royal meeting, but he faces several improving and lightly weighted rivals including Soulcombe. William Haggas’s gelding has made short work of his only two handicap starts so far and gets 19lb from the favourite.
Goodwood 3.00 The form of this year’s Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot looks rock solid with seven subsequent winners emerging from the race already, including the runner-up, Rocket Rodney. George Scott’s gelding had plenty to spare at Sandown next time up and has useful experience of this test too, having won a novice event over track and trip in April.
Goodwood 3.35 Unbeaten Baaeed is head and shoulders above this field on the ratings and has recorded dominant victories over Alcohol Free, Chindit and Order Of Australia already this summer. Modern Games, the French 2,000 Guineas winner, is a fresh opponent but will need to find more than a stone to give Baaeed a race if the favorite is anywhere close to his best.
Goodwood 4.10 Rousay has been generally progressive this season and 10-1 is too big a price on her form when runner-up at Salisbury earlier this month.
Goodwood 4.45 Platinum Queen had plenty in hand at York last time and should need only to match that form to follow up here.