UK RACING: Magnificent Stradivarius wins third straight Royal Ascot Gold Cup

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Stradivarius (Frankie Dettori)

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Stradivarius became only the third horse to win three successive Ascot Gold Cups, triumphing in Thursday’s Royal Ascot showpiece in stunning style under Frankie Dettori.

Stradivarius and Dettori made light of the soft ground he supposedly despises to storm 10 lengths clear of long-time pacesetter Nayef Road to emulate Sagaro and Yeats.

Dettori put his hands together in the shape of a heart and raised three fingers.

“This is an amazing achievement,” said Dettori after winning his eighth Gold Cup, which was staged in unusual conditions with the meeting behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Only the third horse to win three. I was amazed to look round my shoulder and see everyone behind me under pressure with four furlongs to go.”

“I rode some great horses; this will go down as the best stayer I rode. I’m so proud of him, he has brought me such joy. He wears his heart on his sleeve,” said the Italian.

Winning trainer John Gosden rejected the notion that he was the best of an average group of stayers.

“He has beaten top-class horses throughout his career,” said the 69-year-old.

“He has heart and class and I talked up the soft ground being against him so I could as a trainer have an excuse if he was beaten!

“I would like to take him to Goodwood and win a fourth Goodwood Cup and I would not be against running him in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

“We entered him in any case yesterday.”

Yeats went on to win a record four Gold Cups but Johnny Murtagh, who rode him on the last two occasions, said Stradivarius could equal that.

“This lad could just do it,” Murtagh told ITV Racing.

Dettori punched the air in delight several times and performed a trademark flying dismount from Stradivarius.

The rest of the field had few excuses with the 2018 Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter running on late to be third, while the biggest disappointment was the well-backed Technician.

The grey tracked Stradivarius throughout but as they were about to turn into the finishing straight, the white flag went up with champion jockey Oisin Murphy hard at work and he finished second last.