All eyes at Royal Ascot on Thursday were on Stradivarius as the John Gosden trained horse attempted to match Yeats’s record of four Gold Cups but he could only finish fourth behind Mark Johnston’s Subjectivist.
In the race, winning jockey Joe Fanning had Subjectivist racing at the head of affairs, just behind the Aidan O’Brien pacemaker Amhran Na Bhfiann. Dettori, on the other hand, held Stradivarius up in the second half of the 12 runner field. As soon as the leader weakened, just as they started to take the home turn, was the moment that Fanning pressed the accelerator, at which point Stradivarius still had six lengths to make up on him and a wall of horses to get through.
Going up the home straight the result never looked in doubt as Fanning kept Subjectivist up to his work and his mount gamely responded. Once Dettori saw daylight on Stradivarius he briefly flattered but he was never really making inroads into Subjectivist’s lead.
It was the Tony Mullins trained mare Princess Zoe, fast becoming one of Europe’s most popular horses, who chased home the winner with Andrew Balding’s Spanish Mission taking third ahead of Stradivarius in fourth.
It was a fourth win in the race for trainer Mark Johnston whose special affection for the supreme staying test was evident as he spoke after the race, “there are much bigger races and more valuable races, even at Royal Ascot….but there is no race I want to win more than the Gold Cup….what Royal Ascot is all about.”
He was also keen to praise the part played by jockey Fanning for whom the race was a dream come true. When asked if he thought he’d won the race when he made the move at the start of the turn into the straight Fanning replied, “I did, he’s the kind of horse who used to be a little bit keen….best not complicating things with him.”
The horse had suffered a late scare a week ago when he fell on the road at Johnston’s yard and the trainer admitted he was very concerned although the grazing to the horse’s knees turned out to be only superficial and didn’t stop him registering an impressive performance. “It took me ages to pull him up,” said Fanning afterwards, stating he never had any real doubts about Subjectivist’s stamina despite this being the furthest the horse had raced in his career.
Dettori came in for some criticism for his ride on social media after the race but Stradivarius’s trainer John Gosden was philosophical in defeat, “that’s life” he said to Mark Johnston as the winning trainer sportingly consoled him immediately after the race.