Stradivarius set up the prospect of a £1million bonus for his connections as he continued his fantastic campaign by successfully defending his crown in the Qatar Goodwood Cup.
John Gosden’s star stayer had already won the Yorkshire Cup and the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot this season, leaving him on course to land the bonus if he could add the Goodwood Cup and next month’s Lonsdale Cup at York through the inaugural WH Stayers’ Million.
With Andrea Atzeni on his back for the first time since last year’s Goodwood Cup, replacing the suspended Frankie Dettori, Stradivarius was the 4-5 favourite to continue his winning run and travelled powerfully throughout.
Jessica Harrington’s Gold Cup runner-up Torcedor was sent straight to the lead by Colm O’Donoghue and briefly looked to have slipped his rival after pinching a couple of lengths halfway up the home straight.
However, Stradivarius reeled him in late in the day and was ultimately good value for the winning margin of half a length.
Gosden confirmed all roads now lead to York on August 24.
He said: “He’s got a lot of heart, and he was very determined to go and win his race. He (Atzeni) said the race was comfortably under control in the last furlong.
“That (Lonsdale Cup) would be the obvious choice, I’m sure they’ve got it very well insured!
“We’ll have to do everything we can to try to win it. We’ll see how the horse is, there’s three and a bit weeks, which should hopefully be fine, and he was conscious of not giving him a hard race in the last part, he was already thinking ahead.
“Let’s see if we can get there, with horses you’ve always got to be in top order, that’s the key point.
“He’s the most charming horse to be around. He’s a lovely ride.”
Reflecting on the race, Gosden said: “It was a tremendous horse race. They (Stradivarius and Torcedor) are two really brave horses and it’s the Ascot Gold Cup form.
“I thought Colm rode a very clever race from the front. He (Stradivarius) went past Jessica Harrington’s horse and then he came back again. He had to work to get there, but he is a great horse. There is nothing but congratulations to the second for putting up a fantastic race
“He (Stradivarius) is a beautifully balanced horse, he’s not a big horse, he’s neat. To that extent he’s improved a lot from three to four.”
Atzeni said: “He’s a different horse compared to last year. I remember when I won on him last year he was quite narrow, but he’s done a tremendous job as a four-year-old.
“I’m in a very lucky position to be here. Unfortunately Frankie is suspended, but he’s been very helpful and these big days are what it’s all about.
“Colm rode a very good race from the front, but I always had him covered and I promise you, this horse can only get better.
“He could be even better as a five-year-old, but how much better can he get? He’s done nothing wrong so far and he’s definitely the best stayer around.”
Harrington was proud of Torcedor’s performance in defeat and is not ruling out a third straight clash with Stradivarius on the Knavesmire.
She said: “I’m delighted. He has really improved all year. We’ve only got half a length to make up now.
“He made the winner work very hard. Colm said he was beautifully balanced all the way round.
“We might go to York. He has got the Irish St Leger as well. Whether we wait for that or go to York, I don’t know.
“I’m sure he will be put in everything. Then you have got the Prix Cadran or back to Ascot for the two-mile race (Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup). He might as well earn his keep this year.
“He really does battle and he deserves to get a Group One somewhere along the line. We are very near now.”
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Idaho was a long way back in third, while the Queen’s Belmont Gold Cup winner Call To Mind was pulled up sharply with an apparent injury.
The British Horseracing Authority reported Call To Mind had been assessed by vets at the racecourse for a tendon injury in his right fore and was transported home for further assessment.
Maureen Haggas, wife of trainer William Haggas, said later that Call To Mind would be retired, but that “hopefully he’ll go on to be a stallion or something. Hopefully they’ll find a job for him.”
She added: “He never came down and it could have been a lot worse.”