Stradivarius capped a magnificent season when coming out on top in a dramatic race for the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot.
Winner of the newly-inaugurated Stayers’ Million after four victories throughout 2018, Stradivarius completed a five-timer to confirm his status as the undisputed staying king.
It was hard work, though, as he had to be brave to go through a gap for Frankie Dettori on the inside turning for home, which had been left by the pace-setting Flag Of Honour.
After seeing that horse off, Stradivarius appeared to leave Thomas Hobson a little short of room when Willie Mullins’ charge tried to sneak up the far rail in the final furlong.
However, Stradivarius (even-money favourite) would not be denied and the John Gosden-trained four-year-old crossed the line a length and a half to the good from the Irish raider.
Dettori said: “I had half a chance and took it, but you can only do that when you have plenty of horse.
“He’s been a model of consistency and owns the crown of being champion stayer – you can’t take it away from him.
“He’s all heart, this horse.”
Gosden was full of praise for Dettori’s winning efforts.
“I said ‘the ground is one thing, but we are going to get put in a box drawn in stall one – and he will have to be Houdini to get out of it’ – but he did.
“He saw that glimpse on the bend and dived for it.
“Ryan (Moore, on Flag Of Honour) tried to shut it – but thank goodness, it was too late.”
On Stradivarius, the trainer added: “He is a fabulous horse that didn’t like the ground, Frankie said.
“What a clever ride. We committed sooner than we wanted on ground we didn’t like, but we did a bit of a hack canter.
“I wouldn’t have brought him here if he wasn’t in great order.
“(Owner) Bjorn (Nielsen) and I had a long conversation out on the pavement for 15 minutes after I walked the course, and it was touch and go whether we ran him. I said ‘it’s Champions Day, and we should run’.
“Full marks to the jockey and horse for being brave enough to go through the gap.
“We don’t run until next May for either the Sagaro or Yorkshire Cup.”
Mullins said of his runner-up: “He ran a cracker.
“We are delighted. I thought Oisin (Murphy) gave him a super ride. He is full of guts. He stuck to the plan, and it nearly came off.
“We had one plan, and it didn’t matter what the pace was. We knew what we were going to do, and it nearly worked.
“We were hoping to be in Melbourne this year. I thought I had him in terrific order. We’ve all next year to run in these races.”