Reigning champion Stradivarius faces eight in Goodwood Cup test

Leading staying bids for third win in Sussex feature

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Stradivarius will face eight rivals as he bids for a hat-trick in Tuesday’s Qatar Goodwood Cup.

Only the Mark Johnston-trained Double Trigger has won the two-mile feature three times, but John Gosden’s Stradivarius is a hot favourite to emulate the feat after dominating the staying division over the last season and a half.

Stradivarius arrives unbeaten in his last seven starts, most recently claiming a second Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last month.

Gosden told Racing TV’s Luck on Sunday programme: “Obviously he carries a lot more weight here as the three-year-olds come into the race and they’re getting a lot of weight – we know about that as he won it as a three-year-old.

“He’s in great form and looks to be really enjoying life at the moment, so let’s hope it goes well for him on Tuesday.”

Dee Ex Bee was only a length behind Stradivarius at Ascot and tries his luck again, in a race that forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series.

Mark Johnston’s four-year-old will be ridden by Silvestre de Sousa, who said: “Dee Ex Bee was very tough to fight back for second place. He was coming back at the end.

“It will be interesting. He’s proven himself to be among the best stayers and I’m sure he will again turn up in top form.

“It’s a totally different track to Ascot – Stradivarius knows his way around there but so does Dee Ex Bee, who won on his debut there and was second in the Gordon Stakes last year.”

The champion jockey added of Stradivarius: “He’s very special, an incredible horse. He’s a proper stayer, a champion who has everything and, unfortunately, we are always likely to bump into him. We’ve just got to do our thing and see what happens.”

Charlie Appleby’s Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter is a course winner and will be aiming to improve on his fourth from the Gold Cup, while Aidan O’Brien fields three in King George V Handicap winner South Pacific, Southern France and Harpo Max.

Andrew Balding’s Queen’s Vase winner Dashing Willoughby, the Tim Easterby-trained Wells Farhh Go and Raa Atoll from Luke Comer’s yard complete the line-up.

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