Supreme stayer Stradivarius could take a significant drop in trip on his return to action after featuring among 11 entries for the Group 1 Hurworth Bloodstock Coronation Cup over 1m4f at Newmarket on Friday.
Frankie Dettori and Stradivarius, photo Liesl King
The dominant stayer of his generation and beaten only once in his last 11 starts, Stradivarius would be tackling a race run over shorter than 1m6f for the first time since he was beaten in a handicap at Chester over an extended 1m4f in May 2017 should he take up his Coronation Cup entry.
Transferred from the two-day Investec Derby festival at Epsom, the first Group 1 of the delayed Flat season in Britain has a strong feel to it, with last year's winner Defoe, Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck and Godolphin's Ghaiyyath also in contention.
Hurworth Bloodstock was revealed as the sponsor of the Coronation Cup as Newmarket finalised details for its four-day Qipco Guineas meeting starting on Thursday.
“It's an honour to have the opportunity to sponsor such a prestigious and historic race as the Coronation Cup," said Hurworth's Sam Haggas.
"Racing has been my life so far and it's thrilling to play a small part in the resumption of the sport. Moreover, looking at the entries, this year’s renewal of the Coronation Cup has the potential to be a fantastic race.”
Although more than £1 million will be up for grabs over the four days, prize-money levels are well below normal as the industry grapples with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The minimum prize-money for British Group 1s has been temporarily dropped by 50 per cent to £100,000 and, having been worth £425,000 last year, the Coronation Cup will this year carry a prize fund of £110,000 and features alongside the Group 3 Betway Abernant Stakes and Listed Betway Paradise Stakes on an eight-race card on Friday.
Qipco Guineas festival: key races
2.25 Group 3 Betway Abernant Stakes
3.00 Listed Betway Paradise Stakes
3.35 Group 1 Hurworth Bloodstock Coronation Cup
1.50 Group 3 Betfair Backs Racing Welfare Palace House Stakes
2.25 Group 2 Betfair Dahlia Stakes
3.00 Listed Betfair Exchange Free Bet Streak Newmarket Stakes
3.35 Group 1 Qipco 2,000 Guineas
1.50 Listed Betfair Exchange Buckhound Stakes
3.00 Listed Betfair EBF Pretty Polly Stakes
3.35 Group 1 Qipco 1,000 Guineas
Saturday's 2,000 Guineas and Sunday's 1,000 Guineas will be backed by regular sponsor Qipco, with the prize fund for the Classics cut by half from their intended values at £250,000 apiece.
Amy Starkey, regional director of the Jockey Club’s East region, said: “We're delighted we've been able to reschedule the Qipco Guineas festival and incredibly grateful for the support we've received from stakeholders across the industry in putting together four days of fantastic racing.
“Key to our ability to do this has been the backing of our sponsors, and so we thank Qipco, Betfair, Betway, Hurworth Bloodstock and the EBF for working with us so constructively in what have been remarkable circumstances to deliver a programme of races that are vital in helping the industry get back on its feet."
Saturday's 2,000 Guineas will be the centrepiece of a nine-race card at Flat racing's headquarters, also featuring the Betfair-backed Group 3 Palace House Stakes and Group 2 Dahlia Stakes.
A further nine races will complete the meeting on Sunday, with the 1,000 Guineas supported by the Listed Buckhound Stakes and the Pretty Polly Stakes, also supported by Betfair.
Starkey added: “These four days will not replicate the thrill of the Qipco Guineas Festival as we know it, because without the owners and racegoers who create the atmosphere, things will not be the same. However, we hope the racing community will enjoy the action from home and be buoyed by the return of the sport we love at its spiritual home."
A seven-race card is scheduled for day one of what will be the first four-day meeting staged at Newmarket since 2003.