HAVING destroyed his rivals when claiming a Gold Cup hat-trick at Royal Ascot last month, Stradivarius will be a warm order on his return to Goodwood on Tuesday – but trainer John Gosden is taking nothing for granted, with Stradivarius set to concede more than 7kg in weight to Aidan O’Brien’s Queen’s Vase and Irish Derby hero Santiago.
“I think he has probably got one of the biggest challenges of his career,” said the Clarehaven handler.
“If it was run on 1 August he would be giving Santiago 13lb (6.5kg), but because it is run at the end of July he is giving 15lb (7,5kg) to a horse that won stylishly in the Queen’s Vase and went and won an Irish Derby. That is a big ask for Stradivarius – to give 15lb over two miles (3200m).
“Santiago looked pretty quick on his feet to me around Ascot, and I think he will handle the track. We know our fellow handles it.
“We got 13lb from Big Orange when Stradivarius won his first Goodwood Cup, so we benefited that year – now he has got to give 15lb away, the boot is on the other foot. That 2lb could make a difference over two miles if it is a tight finish, I will tell you.”
Before his latest Gold Cup romp, Stradivarius finished a respectable third behind subsequent Coral-Eclipse hero Ghaiyyath and Anthony Van Dyck in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket.
While the chestnut entire appeared to handle testing conditions well at Ascot, Gosden is looking forward to getting him back on a sounder surface.
He added: “I was forced to run him in the Coronation Cup, which obviously this year was run at Newmarket. Ghaiyyath broke the track record, and someone told me we equalled the track record in finishing third.
“Stradivarius does have the ability to be a mile-and-a-half (2400m) horse, but he was caught out at Newmarket by a horse that had won in Dubai and was in top form – he was caught out probably more for fitness than he was for speed.
“Going to Ascot, there were sheets of water rolling across the M25 near Heathrow and I thought ‘this is no good’. I got to the track, and sure enough the ground turned soft, but he seemed to handle it well.
“Did the Gold Cup have its normal depth? Probably not. Having said that, he showed great style and class and quickened well.”