By Jon Lees
GB: Frankie Dettori has nominated Gold Cup hat-trick seeker Stradivarius as the horse he is most looking forward to riding at Royal Ascot.
Stradivarius will face seven rivals when he attempts to become only the third three-time winner of the royal meeting’s feature prize on Thursday.
If he succeeds, the outstanding stayer will join other staying greats Sagaro (1975, 1976 and 1977) and Yeats (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009) as the only horses to have won the race, first run in 1807, more than twice.
“It goes without saying that he’s the horse I’m most looking forward to riding at the meeting,” said Dettori. “He’s 2-1 on, won two Gold Cups – he’s one of the yard favourites and he’s one of my favourites.”
Owned by Bjorn Neilsen and trained by John Gosden, Stradivarius has career earnings of £2.5 million from 14 wins, 11 of which fall under the Qipco British Champions Series umbrella.
He made an encouraging return to action at Newmarket this month when he was third behind Ghaiyyath in the G1 Coronation Cup over 1m4f, one mile short of the Gold Cup distance.
Dettori, 49, who will be seeking an eighth Gold Cup triumph, said: “It was like running Mo Farah against Usain Bolt, it wasn’t fair! He’s been a two-mile plus horse for the last three years and, dropping in trip, I thought it was a good effort.”
Dettori, winner of a sixth riding Royal Ascot riding title 12 months ago, is odds-on with bookmakers to clinch the Qipco Leading Jockey Award again in 2020.
Coral’s David Stevens said: “Twelve months ago Frankie Dettori rolled back the years and had the bookies on the ropes with his Gold Cup day four-timer, and the bad news for the layers is that he and Stradivarius are back for more this year, with the stayer one of many excellent rides the Italian can look forward to at this year’s unusual Royal meeting.”
Gold Cup betting (Coral): 1-2 Stradivarius, 11-2 Technician, 7 Cross Counter, 12 Moonlight Spirit, 14 Nayef Road, 20 Prince Of Arran, 33 Withhold, 50 Mekong.
Royal Ascot Top Jockey (Coral): 4-5 Frankie Dettori, 6-4 Ryan Moore, 12 Oisin Murphy, 14 William Buick, 20 Andrea Atzeni, 25 Jim Crowley, Silvestre De Sousa, 33 James Doyle, 50 Tom Marquand.
• Find out more at the Royal Ascot Racing Hub