Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup Stakes (Group 2) | 2m½f | 3yo+ | ITV/RTV
John Gosden expects the presence of Dee Ex Bee will ensure there is no hiding place in the Lonsdale Cup, in which superstar stayer Stradivarius bids to secure a second Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million for owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen.
Stradivarius, photo Liesl King
Repeat victories in the Matchbook Yorkshire Cup, Ascot Gold Cup and Qatar Goodwood Cup means Stradivarius is one leg away from the seven-figure prize, and he has just four rivals to overcome in this Weatherbys Hamilton-sponsored Group 2 event.
Stradivarius is unbeaten in his last eight races, not suffering defeat since finishing third in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot in 2017, but looked in brief danger in this race last year when slightly outpaced three furlongs out before staying on best to prevail by a length and a half.
Racing Post Ratings suggest Stradivarius is even getting better. The five-year-old achieved a career-best RPR of 123 when defeating Dee Ex Bee by a neck at Glorious Goodwood last time, with Frankie Dettori’s punch of the air when approaching the line providing a pointer to Stradivarius being well in command.
Gosden said: “Stradivarius has been in good form at home since Goodwood and this promises to be another stern test. With Dee Ex Bee in the race I'm sure there will be no hiding place.
“We'll take it one race at a time but he could go back to Ascot, as he did last year, later on."
Charlie Johnston expects Goodwood Cup second Dee Ex Bee to pick up the pieces should Stradivarius have an uncharacteristic off day on the Knavesmire.
Dee Ex Bee is 3lb better off with Stradivarius following his neck defeat last month, in which the Mark Johnston-trained four-year-old posted a career-best Racing Post Rating of 121.
Silvestre de Sousa’s mount was beaten when favourite for the Acomb on his sole previous start at York but has taken his form to the next level at four, finishing a length behind Stradivarius in the Gold Cup and landing the Sagaro Stakes and Henry II Stakes earlier in the season.
Johnston, son and assistant to trainer Mark, said: “Dee Ex Bee has the same horse to beat and it’s the same sort of conditions he’s been running under all year. He’s in good order and if Stradivarius has an off day then we’ll be there to pick up the pieces.
“Stradivarius is a horse who just finds a way to keep winning. He seems to have an extra gear that we don’t quite have, but he only beat us a length at Ascot and a neck a Goodwood so he’s not that far ahead of us.
“He’s got to carry a penalty this time that he didn’t have at Goodwood so that helps, albeit at this sort of level I never know how much of a difference it really makes.
“Us and Stradivarius have shown ourselves to be the best two stayers in the country by a long way and I think the race will be between us again.”
Dermot Weld landed this race with Pale Mimosa in 2014 and bids to strike again with improving four-year-old Falcon Eight.
Oisin Murphy rides Falcon Eight, who defeated Sky Bet Ebor runner Mekong by a head under Dettori in the Listed Coral Marathon Stakes at Sandown last month, for the first time.
While Aidan O’Brien, successful with Septimus in 2007, runs emphatic Curragh handicap scorer Il Paradiso.
The three-year-old colt was well beaten in the Irish Derby but scored by 12 lengths when down markedly in company last time and Wayne Lordan keeps the ride.
O’Brien said: “Il Paradiso is in good form and we were delighted with him the last day. He's been very good since the Curragh.”
Magic Circle is a two-time winner at York and finished fifth in the Ebor on his other visit in 2017.
The Ian Williams-trained stayer finished ninth behind Stradivarius in the Gold Cup on his last start and has gone well fresh in the past.
Williams said: “He’s not run since the Gold Cup but goes well at this track. It’s a tall order but he merits his chance.”