Leading St Leger fancy Stradivarius (6-1) got the better of popular stayer Big Orange to win the Group 1 Qatar Goodwood Cup yesterday.
Big Orange was sent o at 6-4 to complete a hat-trick in the 3200m contest but the first running of the historic race as a Group 1 event. The six-year-old adopted his usual position at the head of a airs and had a number of the eld in trouble with two furlongs to run but Stradivarius could also be seen travelling well.
Ridden by Andrea Atzeni, who had already enjoyed Group race victories aboard Expert Eye and Breton Rock, the three-year-old quickened smartly to lay it down to his older rival.
Big Orange attempted to fight back but the concession of 6kg to the winner proved beyond him with 1.25 lengths separating the pair at the line.
Another three-year-old, Desert Skyline, chased the pair home but didn’t look the easiest of rides for David Probert as he hung in behind Big Orange when asked for his effort.
Spokesman Michael Shinners said: “Stradivarius is progressing at a rate of knots, winning the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot and now the Goodwood Cup. Stamina is clearly his forte and he looks a leading player for the St Leger.”
“It’s a great day. I thought I had a chance coming here, but knew Big Orange was the one to beat,” said Atzeni.
“He had to give us a lot of weight, though, and he’s a three- year-old who stays well. I spoke to Mr Gosden before the race and said that if I had a chance to challenge Big Orange I didn’t want to get near him, everyone knows what he’s like, you can’t get near him as he loves a fight.
“He’s improving, I liked him at Ascot and he picked up like a nice horse. He could be anything.
“I wish the first race had been the last race and I would have won that as well. There is a good race in him [UAE Prince]. Winning races is all about confidence, and in the first race you are trying to do well and it didn’t quite work out.”
Winning trainer John Gosden said: “He’s not the biggest and he got knocked around a bit, but Andrea has been cool today. Frankie went into the middle which was clever as he didn’t want to be at- tacked near a rail on one side, but that meant it opened up for us.
“He’s a lovely little horse, he won the Vase at Royal Ascot and it was Peter Shoemark, my racing manager at Clarehaven, who mentioned coming here and I thought he was mad, but of course he isn’t. “He’ll go for the Leger, obviously. Andrea said he’s still mentally immature and he’s improving all the time. He loves fast ground so it was good he handled this slower ground, but he’s got a big heart, which is important.”
Trainer Michael Bell was proud of Big Orange, a son of Duke Of Marmalade who now stands in South Africa. “We know he is better on faster ground, but the winner is probably a very good horse,
“He pulled well clear of the older horses and the other three- year-old was third. That weight concession is very tough for older horses, but he has run a huge race and I’m very proud of him because he was beaten by a horse that handled conditions be er and could one day be a be er horse.
Full credit to the winner but I am equally proud of Big Orange.
“We were hoping to win, but equally he has run his heart out so you can’t be disappointed with the run, it will probably turn out that the winner is a very good horse. It was slower than ideal for him, but he still ran a great race in defeat.”
Dettori concurred saying: “The ground maybe wasn’t quite fast enough for him but he has run a great race.”
David Elsworth, trainer of Desert Skyline, was delighted with his charge: “The weight allowance helped, but he is a progressive little staying horse and we felt it would be great fun to be here. The owners entered into the spirit of things – he had to be supplement- ed – and were justifiably reward- ed.” – Sportinglife.com