Top trainer at Royal Ascot just 12 months ago, John Gosden revealed which stars from Clarehaven stables will be heading to the Royal meeting next week.
Stradivarius worked well up Warren Hill on Thursday morning ahead of his second chance at making history.
The eight-year-old was not one of Gosden’s four winners last year however, after he failed to emulate Yeats’ record, chasing home Subjectivist to only be fourth in the Ascot Gold Cup.
He did spark back to life on his reappearance in the Yorkshire Cup causing usual pilot Frankie Dettori to be emotional after the victory, and the chestnut looks set to have one last crack at Wednesday’s staying showpiece.
John Gosden said: “It is one thing training an eight-year-old gelding and another thing training an eight-year-old full horse, but Stradivarius is happy and well and I hope the weather holds up for him.
“He runs how he runs and knows how to race. He doesn’t like being left with too much to do but on the other hand if you get there too soon, that is not a good idea either. He is an old pro now.”
Owner Bjorn Nielson has been very sporting in keeping the colt in training with Gosden till this point, all in the hope of one more last Ascot success, but the savvy veteran faces younger, less exposed stayers this year.
Gosden said: “I think he is still up to running a huge race in the Gold Cup, as long as the ground is not soft or heavy. He was probably in his prime at five or six, but at eight you have to face the fact it could be like a boxer getting back in the ring too late in their career. But he seems up for it at the moment and the plan was always to run here and then Goodwood, so we are sticking to that.”
Stradivarius is perhaps the headline act for Gosden’s Ascot team this year with Juddmonte International winner Mishriff likely to head to the Eclipse at Sandown.
Like his stablemate, Lord North is also an International stakes scorer, a joint winner in a dead heat in the Dubai Turf earlier this year. Only fourth in the Tattersalls Gold Cup last month at the Curragh, the six-year-old did blitz the Prince Of Wales’ field last term, and will be ridden differently to his Irish excursion.
Gosden said: “Lord North has won the race before but we are very frightened of the Japanese horse [Shahryar] and another very good horse trained here in Newmarket called Bay Bridge.
“Our fella is a grand horse and I think he needs to be ridden a little differently compared to the Tattersalls Gold Cup, when he sat too close to the pace.”
Sir Michael Stoute is in the midst of a vintage campaign after saddling Epsom Derby winner Desert Crown less than a fortnight ago and he has another smart prospect to line up in this Group One.
Gosden revealed he is a big fan of the recent Sandown winner but hasn’t shied away from taking him on, he said: “I think it is going to be a fabulous race, as it should be. I like Bay Bridge – he has always been a lovely horse and, to me, he could be better than the rest.”
Reach For The Moon will represent Her Majesty The Queen in the Hampton Court stakes. Gosden was tasked with training the three-year-old for the Epsom Derby before the season but the colt was bizarrely pulled out of the classic a few weeks before the off.
“Oh he’s a character!”
Bred by Her Majesty, owned by Her Majesty… a #RoyalAscot winner?
👑 REACH FOR THE MOON heads for the King Edward VII stakes. pic.twitter.com/ZwM0sUTzWZ
— Tote (@ToteRacing) June 9, 2022
Plagued with injury, he returned at Sandown surprisely before the Derby in the listed Heron Stakes where he was second. Coming back in trip for this assignment, Gosden is hopeful of providing the British monarch with a 25th Royal Ascot winner.
Gosden said: “We are thinking of the mile and a quarter option for Reach For The Moon rather than the King Edward VII Stakes.
“He has pleased us in his work since Sandown – he has gone nicely – and we are very happy with him.
“It would be amazing to give Her Majesty a winner and we hope he goes there with a nice chance.”
Gosden also hinted at a return for the starlet filly Inspiral after she missed the 1000 Guineas.
He said: “Inspiral will go in the Coronation Stakes, as could Grand Dame.
“Inspiral is coming to herself now. It has taken a long time but I think we are beginning to see the filly of last year. Hopefully, she can put in a big performance.”
The Cheveley Park filly will likely face Dermot Weld’s Homeless Songs. The daughter of Frankel empathically beat Tuesday in the Irish 1000 Guineas in May, and has notably had her form franked since.
“We are all looking at the one filly [Homeless Songs] who dotted up in the Irish 1,000 Guineas. She looked very smart.” said Gosden.
He continued, “It is great when you have all the Guineas winners turning up. It is like the grand finale and you find out who the best is.
Another of the popular Clarehaven fillies Emily Upjohn also worked up Warren Hill on Thursday morning, seemingly none the worse for her hard luck story in the Epsom Oaks.
🗣 John Gosden gives an update on EMILY UPJOHN. pic.twitter.com/FWo6Bi2XdR
— Tote (@ToteRacing) June 9, 2022
It would be a tight turnaround for the Musiadora winner but Gosden has not ruled out an Ascot encounter for the three-year-old.
He said: “The Oaks and Ribblesdale are tight enough time wise, that’s for sure, but Emily Upjohn could run. It is a very important race and I have won it before with fillies who have run in the Oaks.
“If she doesn’t run here, you are then waiting until the end of July for a couple of options. She has been eating well, looking well and had a canter this morning. We will see how she is and make the decision late.”
Others who look Ascot bound are Francesco Clemente, having the option to go in the King Edward VII Stakes, Gosden said: “I am not sure where Francesco Clemente goes. He is in the King Edward VII Stakes and we will take a look at that but no decision has been made.
Eye Catching two-year-olds Far Shot and Fully Wet have scored this week, throwing them into the last reckoning for Gosden’s Ascot team.
Gosden said: “We have some nice two-year-olds, including Far Shot who won at Yarmouth yesterday – he will go for the Windsor Castle. Then the filly who nicely won at Goodwood [Fully Wet] will go for the Albany. I think we have some possibilities there.”