Nielsen 'not put off' for Arc as Anthony Van Dyck downs Stradivarius in Prix Foy
Stradivarius remains on course for next month’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe despite narrowly failing to overhaul Anthony Van Dyck in a tactical running of the Group 2 Prix Foy at Longchamp on Sunday.
Trainer John Gosden and owner Bjorn Nielsen adopted a pragmatic approach to assessing the supreme stayer’s defeat, reasoning that the Arc will be run at a more suitable tempo for a horse who has dominated races such as the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and Goodwood Cup through his career.
A clash with stablemate Enable on the first Sunday in October remains on the cards for Stradivarius, who was pushed out to 16-1 (from 14) for the contest, with Gosden also satisfied by how the six-year-old had handled the experience of his first run outside Britain.
“I was very happy with his run as a trial and liked the way he finished out as he’s not had the hardest of races,” Gosden said. “It was a good trial and I like the way he finished, so I would have no hesitation about coming back for the Arc.
“It’s his first time racing abroad so it was a trial that was as much about travel and getting a feel for the track and seeing how he handled it all. He’s a bit of a showoff, and was colty in the paddock, but that’s just him and I thought he behaved well on the whole. From my point of view it was a good trial run.”
Sent off the 3-5 favourite, Stradivarius sat close to leader Anthony Van Dyck as he steadily ticked through the furlongs under jockey Mickael Barzalona. When the time came at the top of the home straight, Barzalona asked last year’s Derby winner to stretch and he responded gamely.
Frankie Dettori reacted and pushed Stradivarius briefly alongside the leader, but the combination of race position and needing an extra couple of seconds to hit top gear meant that Stradivarius was never quite able to pass Anthony Van Dyck, falling short by a short neck.
Nielsen was far from disheartened by the result, and said: “They walked through and Frankie said he should probably have made it, but that's the way it goes. It was a sprint finish and he got beat a neck so it was a good trial, but I have to see what John thinks.
“I wouldn't be put off for the Arc by the way he ran today and the pace of an Arc would suit better.”
Anthony Van Dyck’s trainer Aidan O’Brien had identified targets further afield for the four-year-old prior to his victory at Longchamp, with the likes of the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate in Australia both under consideration.
Barzalona praised the winner’s attitude and said: “There wasn’t much pace so we decided to go forward. It was only a regular pace so we picked up the pace early as he doesn’t do anything quick.
“I thought when Stradivarius came to me my horse responded well. He’s probably got more speed in him than I thought.”
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