Goodwood Cup Preview: Santiago to down Stradivarius

Santiago arrives here on the back of victory in the Irish Derby.
Santiago arrives here on the back of victory in the Irish Derby.

Steve Chambers previews the 2020 Goodwood Cup, which is the feature race on the opening day of Glorious Goodwood, as Stradivarius bids for a fourth win on the bounce in the marathon test.

An emphatic ten-length victory in the Ascot Gold Cup cemented Stradivarius' place at the top of the tree in the marathon division, and the John Gosden-trained superstar will attempt to break more records on Tuesday afternoon, as he looks to become the first horse in history to win four renewals of the Goodwood Cup.

Now six years old, Stradivarius showed his qualities weren't diminishing as he heads into the twilight of his career, as he was in a different stratosphere to his Gold Cup rivals at Royal Ascot, and he will now to look to continue his dominance, and is unsurprisingly a red-hot odds-on favourite for the Goodwood Cup.

A winner of the two-mile showpiece in 2017, 2018 and 2019, the Bjorn Neilsen-owned superstar will have to deal with rain-softened conditions like he did in the Gold Cup at Goodwood, but arguably the biggest danger could come in the shape of main rival Santiago, who is a fascinating contender for Aidan O'Brien, and the three-year-old can be a notable thorn in the side of the reigning champion.

Gosden and O'Brien locked horns in the King George at the weekend, with the former prevailing with Enable, but the two heavyweight handlers will lock horns once again on Tuesday afternoon - and could this produce a different outcome?

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After blowing the cobwebs away over an inadequate trip in the Coronation Cup at the start of the season, Stradivarius then improved immeasurably for his victory in the Gold Cup, and bearing in mind that he's excelled at Goodwood in recent seasons, it's no shock to see him a warm order, but in Santiago he could face the next potential star performer off the O'Brien production line, and he is a fascinating rival.

A hugely taking winner of the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot last month, Santiago then enhanced his reputation by storming to glory in the Irish Derby at the Curragh. Now, it's not often that you see a Irish Derby winner take in the Goodwood Cup on his next assignment, but Santiago has been handed that test, and with a significant weight pull, could he be the next to etch his name on the illustrious roll of honour?

An exciting staying prospect, Santiago has yet to race over 1m 6f, but in that Queen's Vase romp he was not stopping at the finish, and a return to win in Group 1 company over 1m 4f in the Irish Derby shows that he not only possesses stamina, he also has a turn of foot. On his first try at two miles, the son of Authorized has a tough task on his hands, but he will be in receipt of a whopping 15 lb from Stradivarius, and that could prove all the difference in the closing stages.

Arguably, Santiago was sent to the front too quickly in the Irish Derby, but he showed guts to maintain his advantage, so if Ryan Moore can stalk Frankie Dettori on board Stradivarius and then unleash a blistering kick; Santiago may just be able to edge past Stradivarius, who may just struggle to bridge the gap against a rival that will be carrying a featherweight on his back.

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There's a chasm in the betting between Stradivarius and Santiago and the rest of the sextet bidding for Goodwood Cup glory, and Nayef Road is sitting third in the betting, but he has form to turn around with Stradivarius from their Gold Cup clash. However, Mark Johnston's charge put up a bold effort in defeat as he claimed second spot in the Gold Cup, and having raced to freely on the front end and not lasting home, he could be a lively pace angle here.

A drop back in trip could well play into Nayef Road's strengths, and he has winning form at the track, having won the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood 12 months ago, but ultimately he may lack the class of the fancied two in the betting, and he will have to settle for minor honours once again.

David Simcock's Spanish Mission relished the step up to two miles in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown Park last time out, but he was no match for Dashing Willoughby that day, and while he is sure to improve for that first outing over 16 furlongs, he, like Nayef Road, will lack the class to sparkle at the highest level.

A shock winner at York last time out, Eagles By Day makes a quick reappearance, but has form to find with Spanish Mission after Simcock's charge beat the David O'Meara-trained raider in the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket last season and can be ignored.

The Alan King-trained dual-purpose sensation Who Dares Wins completes the line-up, but the recent Queen Alexandra Stakes winner, who has a Grade 2 victory over fences to his name in recent times, is unlikely to be able to land a notable blow at this level, and the 2019 Northumberland Plate winner will look to pick up the pieces should a couple of the more fancied rivals flop.

A fascinating renewal that sees a top-class stayer in Stradivarius take on an emerging staying star in Santiago, and at the prices, and with a significant pull at the weights it's worth taking a chance on Santiago being a potential world beater over the next couple of seasons, and the Ballydoyle raider can reign supreme in an epic marathon test on day one of Glorious Goodwood.

Selection

Goodwood Cup, Goodwood, Tuesday 28th July - back Santiago at 11/4

Tip

Goodwood Cup
Santiago silk

Santiago

placed
Glorious Goodwood 2020

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