Picture: Kyprios ridden by Ryan Moore (right) just holds on from Stradivarius in the Goodwood Cup. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

Gold Cup winner at Royal Ascot holds off popular stayer

Runner-up and four-time Goodwood Cup winner will race on vows owner

Greg Wood at Goodwood (theguardian.com)

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 last 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 sent 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 last month’s 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 next month’s Lonsdale Stakes at York.

“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 to 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 come.

“He is only ever in the gear that you want him,” O’Brien said. “He is always keeping plenty and is a horse that loves a battle.

“I’d say there’s a lot more to come, he loves racing and is easy on himself. Those type of horses are very special, a horse who stays like that and has that class.”

 

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