John Gosden's defending champion Stradivarius confirmed to run in the Yorkshire Cup
Stradivarius will face seven rivals when he makes his reappearance in the £260,000 Matchbook Yorkshire Cup over almost 1m6f at York on Friday – the first race in the Long Distance category of this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series.
The John Gosden-trained colt, bred and owned by Bjorn Nielsen, carried all before him in the staying division last year, when he won the Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup, Qatar Goodwood Cup, Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup and the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup.
In the process, he became only the second horse, after the legendary Frankel in 2012, to win five QIPCO British Champions Series races in one season. His exploits also helped his connections scoop a £1 million bonus offered by Weatherbys Hamilton, which is again up for grabs this year.
Ardross (1981-82) is the only horse to have won two renewals of the Yorkshire Cup and Stradivarius will have to defy a 3lb penalty if he is to emulate him. Frankie Dettori, his jockey, is seeking a sixth success in the Group 2 contest, 28 years after his first aboard Arzanni.
“It’s very unusual to have a stayer with such a turn of foot,” Dettori said. “He’s a great little horse. What he’s done has been remarkable and we are going to try do it all again, but it’s going to be more difficult with more competition and more miles on the clock.”
Meanwhile, another Newmarket trainer Charlie Appleby went close to landing a first Yorkshire Cup with Endless Time in 2017 – she was beaten two necks and a head in a memorable encounter won by Dartmouth - and this time relies on Ispolini.
The four-year-old son of Dubawi was gelded at the end of last season and has shown improved form in Dubai this year. On his latest start he chased home stable-mate and Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan.
“He was quite a heavy horse and being gelded has been the making of him,” Appleby said: “I geld the horses when I feel it will turn them into a racehorse, rather than have them stand there on the gallops as a good-looking colt.
“As he showed in Dubai, he’s got quite a good gear change and I think a mile and six furlongs is probably his best trip. He gets two miles but I think a dour stayer, a proper Cup horse, will always outstay him over that distance.
“It will be interesting to see how he gets on back in Europe. The one thing I wouldn’t want to run him on would be quick ground.”