Does Stradivarius have one last great effort?

Stradivarius was denied a rare place in history to win four successive Ascot Gold Cups in 2021 when he finished in fourth place at the event as Subjectivist snatched his crown. John and Thady Gosden’s charge had the chance to equal Yeats’ four-straight wins after reeling off victories from 2018 to 2020 but failed to match Aidan O’Brien’s charge.

However, he now has the chance to amend the record by joining Yeats with four victories in the 2022 race, although it will take a special performance from the chestnut stallion to beat out Trueshan and Kyprios in the signature event of the week. He is backed at odds of +333 in the Royal Ascot 2022 odds to achieve the feat, and his form in the early stages of the season suggests that he could be capable of one last great effort to sign out on the highest of notes.

Stradivarius ended a two-race drought without a victory at York in the Yorkshire Cup. He was named the favorite for the race despite issues at the back end of the last term, but he rose to the occasion with Frankie Dettori in the saddle to beat Thunderous by a length.

It was not a perfect performance, but one to prove that he was far from finished at the top end of flat racing. Now comes the challenge of translating that form against elite competitors, which was the problem in the 2021 campaign.

Stradivarius did not look comfortable in the Ascot Gold Cup last season as he limped towards a fourth-place finish. He was short of rhythm and it was a testament to his quality and that of Dettori that he was able to get around the track with a respectable performance, albeit well off the pace of Subjectivist.

Gosden’s charge did stage a recovery in August 2021 to win the Lonsdale Cup and followed that up with a fine outing to triumph in the Doncaster Cup, taking momentum into the climax of the campaign.

Owner Bjorn Nielsen opted to place his charge in the Prix du Cadran, where Stradivarius ran a fine race. But, his best was nowhere near good enough amid the quality of Trueshan, who blew away the rest of the field with a great outing to finish four-and-a-half lengths ahead of Stradivarius to win the race comfortably.

The foes faced off again in the final race of the term in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot, but on this occasion, the result was even worse for Stradivarius as he finished down in third.

The result at the Yorkshire does give Stradivarius a glimmer of hope, but his best days are behind him and it will take a significant effort to topple Trueshan at the peak of his powers. Had both horses faced off in their respective primes, you would give the edge to Stradivarius, but at this stage of his career, he is the underdog. Gosden and Dettori will give him every chance to pull off a feat to remember as he deserves to go out on top.

Huynh Nguyen

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