Stradivarius can star at Arc trip but will not tackle Enable, says owner

Stradivarius could be a Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe contender but the presence of Enable, and the unavailability of star jockey Frankie Dettori, means owner Bjorn Nielsen is happy to wait until next year to challenge for Europe's greatest race.

Stradivarius and Dettori after winning the Ascot Gold Cup, photo Liesl King

Stradivarius has reigned supreme in staying contests over the past two seasons, going unbeaten in ten starts, including the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot twice. He has also scooped £2 million in bonuses for twice winning the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers Million.

Such dominance has prompted discussions about whether the five-year-old could drop back to a mile and a half for the Arc on October 6, for which Stradivarius is a 25-1 shot behind the 10-11 favourite Enable.

However, Nielsen, who also bred the son of Sea The Stars, does not want to challenge Enable in her bid for an unprecedented third Arc victory, with the superstar mare housed alongside Stradivarius at trainer John Gosden’s yard and with Dettori certain to side with the dual Arc winner over the supreme stayer.

It is not the first time the 'Frankie Factor' has played a role in the thinking of owners challenging Enable in the Arc, with Cracksman bypassing the race in 2017 to go for the Champion Stakes, which he won, partly due to owner Anthony Oppenheimer's desire to have Dettori on board.

Asked if an Arc challenge were on the cards, Nielsen said on Thursday: "No, not this year with Enable around. It's the same yard and the same jockey [as Stradivarius]. 

"He's been entered the last couple of years and it's in our thoughts but I wouldn’t do it with Enable around. Apart from the fact she’s very good, Frankie Dettori would ride her, obviously, instead of Stradivarius.

"We've not really tried him over a mile and a half since he's gone staying distances. He has a big turn of foot and there's nothing to say he won't be as good over shorter, and it's well known that he's staying in training [next year] as long as he's fit, healthy and enthusiastic."

He added: "There's no reason to stop with him as he's at the top of his game. It's not like he's a miler or a mile-and-a-quarter horse who commercially has people coming in for him left, right and centre. I'd rather continue to race him and see what he can do."

With the Arc off the table, Nielsen is looking forward to taking Stradivarius back to Ascot for the Qipco Long Distance Cup on October 19, a race he won last year but also in which he suffered his most recent defeat in 2017 when third to Order Of St George.

"We're looking to go for the champions stayers' race on Champions Day instead,” Nielsen said. "There is the Cadran and the Royal-Oak in France, but we wouldn't be thinking about those unless the ground came up very soft at Ascot and was quicker in France. I prefer Ascot as it's in England, he's had some great runs around there and they've always treated us very well."

Reflecting on the successes of Stradivarius, Nielsen added: "He's been an incredible horse for me he really has, he's something else. He sits in a good position in his races and seems to be able to pick them up whenever he wants; it's an ideal racing style really."