Stradivarius targets his second Stayers’ Million

When Weatherbys Hamilton introduced a £1 million bonus for any horse that could win four elite long-distance races in 2018, including the Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup, it looked an impossible feat.

Then Stradivarius emerged onto the scene, beat everything that was put in front of him and promptly snagged the cheque for owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen and the team that looks after him at trainer John Gosden’s Clarehaven Stables.

If Stradivarius wins the Group 2 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York on Friday, he will bag the million again and become the toast of Yorkshire, if not Wellingborough. He faces four rivals in the extended two-mile contest including Dee Ex Bee, who chased home Stradivarius at Royal Ascot and Goodwood this year, and Falcon Eight, who makes the journey over from Dermot Weld’s Curragh stable.

Stradivarius will try to land his second Stayers’ Million in the Lonsdale Cup at York on Friday

Battaash bids to banish York blues

Will it be a case of third time lucky for Battaash in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes? The brilliant speedster has never shone on the Knavesmire, finishing fourth on his previous two appearances in the race.

This year’s Group 1 sprint over the flying five furlongs has a field of 12 runners, with three-year-old Ten Sovereigns the favourite after his blistering performance in the July Cup. Mabs Cross, narrowly denied by Alpha Delphini in the 2018 contest, bids for redemption with Gerald Mosse replacing Paul Mulrennan in the saddle.

Cracking Gimcrack

Thirteen two-year-olds line up in a competitive renewal of the Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes. Threat, runner-up in Group 2s at Royal Ascot and the Qatar Goodwood Festival, heads the market for owner Cheveley Park Stud and trainer Richard Hannon.

Yorkshire handler Kevin Ryan, who has sent out the winner of the race three times in the last seven years, fields a team of three with Byline, Repartee and Abstemious. The last-named runner races in the silks of the late Guy Reed. Reed, a proud Yorkshireman, enjoyed some of his finest moments on the Knavesmire, landing the 2005 Nunthorpe with homebred filly La Cucaracha.

Most valuable maiden in Britain

The British Stallions Studs EBF Convivial Maiden Stakes for two-year-olds is the most valuable race of its type run in the UK, with the winner taking home £43,575. Molatham, touched off by Mums Tipple on his debut at Ascot, looks sure to go off a hot favourite after his conqueror produced a stunning performance at York on Thursday, winning the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes by 11 lengths.

Among the debutants, Steve Parkin’s Clipper Logistics introduces two interesting prospects both trained by Kevin Ryan. Western Hero is an Excelebration half-brother to the ill-fated 1,000 Guineas runner-up Lady Kaya, while Gift Of Kings is a son of Kingman whose half-brother Delegator was runner-up in two Group 1s and enjoyed his biggest win on the Knavesmire in the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes.

Smullen misses Champions Race

Popular ex-jockey Pat Smullen has suffered a health setback and will not ride in the Champions Race on day two of Longines Irish Champions Weekend in September.

Smullen, who announced his retirement from the saddle in May, said: “Unfortunately I’ve had a setback with my health and have to undergo chemotherapy. On advice from my medical team I am unable to ride in the Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland.

“I am bitterly disappointed not to be able to take part in this very special race – I was really looking forward to riding against such a brilliant group of champions, especially at the Curragh.

“I’ve spoken to Horse Racing Ireland who are helping me with the fundraising activity over Longines Irish Champions Weekend and I am more determined than ever that the fundraising activity goes ahead as pancreatic cancer needs more awareness now than ever before.”