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Friday, 19 October, 2018

Gosden has plenty of respect for Torcedor as Stradivarius seeks follow-up

Stradivarius (right) holds off Vazirabad and Torcedor (left) in Gold Cup
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3.35 Goodwood
Qatar Goodwood Cup | Group 1 | 2m | 3yo+ | ITV1/RUK

Without the presence of Vazirabad and Order Of St George, two of the quartet who made this year's Gold Cup such a thriller, Stradivarius is odds-on to complete back-to-back victories.

But the task facing owner Bjorn Neilsen's star of the staying division may not be as straightforward as the markets suggest, with trainer John Gosden conscious of the threat posed by Torcedor, the Gold Cup third.

He insisted: "I don't think it's a one-sided race – on the book it isn't. There are some nice horses in there, and Torcedor looks a real threat to us."

Stradivarius denied Big Orange a Goodwood Cup hat-trick last year when taking full advantage of a 13lb weight-for-age allowance.

However, with no three-year-old contesting the race this year, he meets his opponents at level weights but is 1lb worse off with Torcedor, just less than a length behind Stradivarius at the royal meeting in June.

Gosden said: "Stradivarius is in good form. All those horses in the Gold Cup had a tough race, but he's freshened up well and we're happy with him going in. It looks a good, contentious race and I have plenty of respect for Jessie Harrington's runner, who is a smart horse."

Wins in the Yorkshire Cup and Gold Cup have put Stradivarius halfway towards landing the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers' Million with two legs left – the Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup at York.

Andrea Atzeni, who rode the horse to victory at Goodwood last year, returns to the saddle, having emerged as the obvious understudy in the absence of the suspended Frankie Dettori.

Pros
Course-and-distance winner who is unbeaten this year

Cons
Meets Gold Cup third Torcedor, who beat him in the Long Distance Cup last year, on 1lb worse terms

Harrington's big hope

A cracking third in the Ascot Gold Cup has trainer Jessica Harrington quietly confident of a big performance from Colm O'Donogue's mount as the pair bid to continue a fine season in which dual Group 1 winner Alpha Centauri has been their star performer.

Torcedor was beaten only a length by Stradivarius at the royal meeting, and Harrington said: "His run at Ascot was a very good one and there wasn't much between the first three at the finish.

"Our horse is in great form and travelled over well, so we're all set and ready to go. He's proved himself very adaptable in terms of ground, so there are no worries on that front."

A dual Group 3 winner, including of the Sagaro Stakes in May, Torcedor finished fifth in the Ascot Gold Cup last year, when he also ran second in the Irish St Leger.

Pros
Fine effort in Ascot Gold Cup gives him strong claims

Cons
Nothing obvious if he adapts to the different demands Goodwood presents compared with Ascot

Thirteenth time lucky?

Idaho will be tackling two miles for the first time in his bid to make the breakthrough at Group 1 level at his 13th attempt.

A brother to multiple Group 1 winner Highland Reel, the Aidan O'Brien-trained five-year-old has travelled the world and raced in Ireland, Britain, France, Dubai, Japan, the US and Canada.

Third in the 2016 Derby and runner-up in the Irish Derby, Idaho was third in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes last year. He enjoyed Group 2 success in the Great Voltigeur and Hardwicke Stakes and achieved his most recent win in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester in May.

O'Brien, who won the race with Yeats in 2006 and 2008, said: "Idaho is in good form. The last time we ran him beyond a mile and a half was in the Ormonde and ever since we planned to try him over two miles. The time has come to do that and, hopefully, he will go well."

Pros
The manner of his Ormonde Stakes win suggested this longer trip would be worth trying after his efforts over shorter distances

Cons
Yet to succeed at top level despite several attempts and, while longer trip might suit, he looks up against it

Royal patronage

England won the World Cup in 1966 the last time the Queen claimed the Goodwood Cup, scoring with Gaulois.

Her 2013 Gold Cup winner Estimate finished last on her only appearance, but Call To Mind, winner of last year's March Stakes, at least brings course winning form into the race.

A solid third behind Stradivarius in the Yorkshire Cup, he missed Royal Ascot and went to New York, where he landed the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational Stakes.

Call To Mind forms a twin assault by trainer William Haggas, whose other contender, Dal Harraild, in first-time blinkers, is higher rated but three times the odds of the royal runner.

Call To Mind: won in New York last time

"I think Dal Harraild has been ignored because he didn't win last time, but he's a nice horse who will be better for that race," said Haggas. "I thought blinkers might help him."

He added: "They both have a bit to find, but they are very well. Call To Mind got 3lb from Desert Skyline at York and Stradivarius is obviously a good horse. The Gold Cup form is very solid and those front two will be hard to beat." 

Call To Mind

Pros
Slightly fresher horse, having avoided a hard race in the Gold Cup

Cons
Has 8lb to find with Stradivarius and rated inferior to his own stablemate  

Five nil down

Desert Skyline landed the Doncaster Cup last year but has finished behind Stradivarius all five times they have met – including in this contest last year – and was last in the Gold Cup. "I don't know what happened," said trainer David Elsworth.

St Michel, a close third in the Lonsdale Cup last year, has only his second start of the campaign in what connections are sure to be hoping will be another step towards the Melbourne Cup.

Desert Skyline: has never finished in front of Stradivarius

William Butler, trainer Sir Mark Prescott's assistant, said: "I think you can put a line through his comeback run in Germany, where they went no pace and he was too keen.

"He's a class horse who travels strongly in his races. He's a big price because his form figures don't stack up for these Group 1 races, but if you look at his form closely he's not far off this level.

"We're hoping he can get back on track with the aim he can go to the Melbourne Cup, which he was going for last year when he got injured just before he was due to go into quarantine."


Read exclusive previews from 6pm daily on racingpost.com


 

I don't think it's a one-sided race – on the book it isn't. There are some nice horses in there, and Torcedor looks a real threat to us
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