John Gosden had a mixed afternoon on the Knavesmire on Thursday, as Lah Ti Dar scraped home by a neck at 1-3 in the Middleton Stakes, half an hour before her full brother Too Darn Hot lost his unbeaten record when finishing second to Telecaster in the Dante Stakes. He should have a more straightforward day at the track on Friday, however, as Stradivarius, one of the best stayers of recent years, makes his five-year-old debut in the Yorkshire Cup.
Stradivarius was five-from-five last season, completing a sequence in major staying events that earned his connections a £1m bonus. He was also the first horse for 50 years to complete an unbeaten season that included a win in the Ascot Gold Cup (thank you Timeform, for that snippet).
Stradivarius started his winning run in last year’s renewal of the Yorkshire Cup, when he beat Desert Skyline by three lengths.
This year’s race looks stronger, with opponents including Ispolini, who did well in Dubai over the winter, and Southern France, third home in last season’s St Leger, looking to exploit the 3lb they get from the favourite. He is also 6lb worse off with Desert Skyline. Stradivarius (3.00) developed into an outstanding stayer last year, however, and it will be a surprise and a disappointment if he is not straight enough to extend his winning sequence to six.
The opening Marygate Fillies’ Stakes, a trial for the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot, is a daunting prospect for punters with a field of 20 juvenile fillies due to go to post, any one of which could conceivably find the improvement needed to win.
Lady Kermit and Fleeting Princess head the market and deservedly so on their unbeaten form so far but it is very tempting to look for a potential improver at a bigger price and Tim Easterby’s Iva Go (1.50) fits the bill. She looked all speed when making all at Beverley last time, the drying ground will suit and she is a mover in the market on Friday morning to 16-1 (from 22-1 overnight).
Tenax (4.35) and Electric Landlady (4.05) are both fairly priced later on the same card, while Carp Kid (3.20) and Ballylemon (4.55) have obvious chances down at Newbury.