Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Tips: Stradivarius profile

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Tips: Stradivarius has won the last three Gold Cups at Royal Ascot.
Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Tips: Stradivarius has won the last three Gold Cups at Royal Ascot.

Steve Chambers profiles star stayer Stradivarius, who has dominated the long distance races in Europe, and is dropping back in trip for a crack at the 2020 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe...

Stradivarius

  • Age: 6
  • Races: 24
  • Wins: 16
  • Trainer: John Gosden
  • Jockey: Olivier Peslier
  • Owner: BE Neilsen
  • Notable Race Wins: Ascot Gold Cup (2018, 2019, 2020), Goodwood Cup (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020), Lonsdale Cup (2018, 2019), Yorkshire Cup (2018, 2019)

Career Record

John Gosden's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe team is spearheaded by the dual winner Enable, but the legendary handler is also set to saddle a fascinating challenger in the shape of marathon king Stradivarius, who will drop back in trip in a bid to win the prestigious European prize in Paris on October 4. Dominant over staying trips, Stradivarius has a glittering CV which includes no less than three Ascot Gold Cup crowns, while a quartet of Goodwood Cup wins and two Yorkshire Cups just emphasise his brilliance over marathon trips.

However, the Bjorn Neilsen-owned son of Sea The Stars is set to be handed a different end-of-season contest as he heads to Longchamp for the Arc, a race he is hovering around the 16/1 mark at the time of writing. Having been kept over long distances the last couple of seasons, which has ultimately seen him rack up a host of Group victories, Stradivarius has been handed a slightly different race path during 2020.

A delayed start to the Flat season meant Stradivarius was unable to make his traditional comeback run in the Yorkshire Cup before he headed to Royal Ascot for the Gold Cup, so Gosden elected to dip Stradivarius's toe into the 1m 4f water as he saddled him in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket. Coming up against superstar Godolphin raider Ghaiyyath, Stradivarius was unable to kick off the campaign with a win, as he could only finish third to Charlie Appleby's stable star. 

Returning to winning ways in mid-June with his third Ascot Gold Cup victory, Stradivarius then eased to a one length win in the Goodwood Cup, as he won that event for the fourth year on the bounce. With the Arc now the ultimate plan, Stradivarius was sent for a look at Longchamp, as he lined up in the Prix Foy in the middle of September. Sent off an odds-on favourite for the 1m 3f 204y contest, Stradivarius was just touched off by former Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, so it was to be his second defeat over a shorter distance this season.

Opting to stick to the plan of the Arc, Gosden's raider will add significant intrigue to the race, but coming up against proven top-class middle-distance performers like stablemate Enable and Aidan O'Brien's Love, Stradivarius will need everything to go his way, and connections will be hoping for a fiercely run renewal of the Longchamp spectacle, as he is sure to be doing all his best work in the latter stages.

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Positives

Proven At Highest Level: One of the shining lights of his generation, multiple Group-winning superstar Stradivarius has shown that he can produce the goods at the highest level. Dominating his races at several tracks throughout his career, Stradivarius often delivers in Group company, so expect him to run to his optimum in the Arc.

Stamina: With a host of top-class performers looking to stamp their authority on the race from the early stages, the Arc can often turn into a "survival of the fittest" type contest, with a fierce gallop getting some contenders out of their comfort zone. While Stradivarius will lack the pace of some of his rivals, if it turns into a real war or attrition, and the rain hits Paris in the days leading up to the race to make it a real stamina test, then Stradivarius' stamina could come to the fore, and he can challenge for glory in the closing stages.

Negatives

Lack Of Pace: While Stradivarius may have stamina in abundance, it's his lack of pace that could see him found out. While the likes of Love and Enable have shown a blistering turn of foot in their careers, Stradivarius has all been about maintaining the gallop for longer than his rivals. His 2020 Gold Cup win at Royal Ascot may have looked like he sprinted clear, but he was merely quickening slightly against tired horses, and it's hard to see him being able to keep up with a host of speedier rivals in the Arc.

Distance: Of his 16 career wins, Stradivarius has won 14 of those over a distance of 1m 5f+, with his two wins below that distance coming over 1m and 1m 1f in 2016 and 2017. So, while he hasn't been campaigned over shorter distances over the last couple of years, his inability to claim victory in the 1m 4f Coronation Cup and 1m 3f 204y Prix Foy earlier this season show that he is unable to dominate at shorter trips, and this is going to find him out when lining up in the 1m 4f Arc in early October.

Age: Only one horse aged six or over (Motrico - 1932 winner) has been victorious in the Arc, so while this negative stat counts for the well-fancied hat-trick-seeking Enable it also counts for Stradivarius, who is six years old. While the Arc has often been a race contested by horses aged three to five, it has seen older contenders bid for glory in the race, and with the stats against the veteran of the field, Stradivarius, then it's another negative against his chances.

How will Stradivarius fare in the 2020 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe?

In a sport that often sees horses shy away from challenges outside of their comfort zone, it's refreshing to see John Gosden and Bjorn Neilsen trying their hand with Stradivarius in the Arc. A horse that has dominated the staying division on British shores for years, connections could've quite easily targeted the Long Distance Cup at Ascot on British Champions Day, but for them to dip their toe into the Arc water it's highly commendable. However, it's hard to see Stradivarius landing a blow on some younger, more speedier horses in the French showpiece, and while he will be staying on in the closing stages, it's only really a top-six finish that can be realistically the end result.

Verdict: A tough ask

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