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Encore! Stradivarius lands another million under Frankie in rousing Lonsdale Cup

It's a song we've heard time and again, but one you simply cannot tire of hearing.

Stradivarius, the maestro of the orchestra, led another rousing rendition of his famous victory anthem as the superstar stayer captured his second Lonsdale Cup and his second Weatherbys £1 million stayers' pot at York on Friday.

Stradivarius and Dettori, photo Liesl King

Carrying 3lb more than Dee Ex Bee, who pushed him so close in the Goodwood Cup, the doubters were waiting for Stradivarius to fail. But the five-year-old simply strung them along and played them for fools, rising to a crescendo in the closing stages as he roared past his rivals to a length-and-a-quarter victory.

Questioned on how the star stayer had created such an unstoppable partnership with Frankie Dettori, a smiling John Gosden believed he had found the answer.

"He's a bit like his jockey," Gosden said. "He's quite full of himself. His favourite party trick is to rear up and play and he has a sense of humour. But at the same time he's a professional – he follows the pace and he breathes and travels well.

"You've got to make him happy and then he'll perform for you."

With another £1 million cheque banked, the last Weatherbys are willing to offer because of his sheer dominance, the attention turns to the future and whether Stradivarius's incredible presence on a racecourse will be a part of it.

Gosden added: "If the horse is happy and well, I think Mr [Bjorn] Nielsen is keen to go for these Cup races again. So it's his decision, but it's the horse's decision first – if he's up for it, then the answer's yes."

Thankfully, owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen was able to be a little more definitive as to whether the career soundtrack of the classy stayer could still have a few extra verses to come.

"As long as he can stay sound and enthusiastic there's no reason why we can't keep going," he said.

"This year he's a lot stronger, but these horses aren't motorbikes. You can't just bring them out and say 'mine does 80mph and yours does 75mph', they've got to be right on the day and the trainer needs to have everything spot on."

One of the quirks of Stradivarius that makes him so lovable is that it never seems to be easy. Boxed in at Ascot, and only a neck clear at Goodwood, there is always drama wherever he goes. But it's those dramatic moments which make this sport so great, as difficult as it can be on the nerves of Nielsen.

"It'd be nice if he came home cruising, went ten clear and I could just walk away with about 100 yards to run, but I'm always having to lean a bit towards the winning post!" Nielsen said.

Ever the fighting competitor, Dettori relished the battle and told how he posed the question and his partner answered heartily.

"I asked and Stradivarius went whoosh!" he said. "People get attached to horses like him; you'll always get a fight and this horse is special."

With nine straight victories, two Stayers Millions and a broken track record, special is just one of many superlatives to describe this equine extraordinaire.

 

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