Stradivarius was a record breaker with speed, stamina and spirit in equal measure. We can now reveal the public have recognised his exploits by voting him into the QIPCO British Champions Series Hall of Fame.

He was up against four other titans of the staying division during the past 50 years or so – Ardross, Le Moss, Persian Punch and Yeats – in a poll to determine the next Hall of Famer. Any one of the quintet would have been a worthy inclusion but, even allowing for a little recency bias, Stradivarius pulled away to win by a decent margin.

When Bjorn Nielsen, his owner/breeder, retired Stradivarius to stud as an eight-year-old at the end of 2022, he had won a record 18 European Group races on the Flat, plus made the frame in another ten. His pace and ability to keep up the gallop as others wilted made for a potent combination that overwhelmed opposition time and again at the highest level. Most of his wins, usually achieved by swooping from off the pace, came under Frankie Dettori, although Robert Tart, Rab Havlin and Andrea Atzeni also enjoyed victories on him.

In addition to three successive Gold Cup victories at Royal Ascot, he won a record-breaking four Goodwood Cups, plus three Yorkshire Cups, three Lonsdale Cups, two Doncaster Cups, a QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup, a Sagaro Stakes and a Queen’s Vase. And he had won the hearts of all racing fans long before his final race, when beaten a neck by another supreme stayer, Kyprios, in an epic renewal of the 2022 Goodwood Cup.

If all that were not enough, he was in his prime at a time when Weatherbys Hamilton, the insurance broker, offered a £1 million bonus to any horse who won four top staying races in the same season, including the Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup. Many scoffed at the notion, not least because no horse had
previously won the designated programme of contests. But they had bargained without Stradivarius, who achieved the feat at the first attempt in 2018.

Weatherbys Hamilton took a view that lightning could not strike twice and offered the same incentive the following year. Remarkably, Stradivarius made them pay for a second time during a glorious ten-race sequence when he was invincible. Having dished out £2 million, divided between the owner, trainer, jockeys and stable staff, the firm resisted dangling the carrot a third time.

Stradivarius won the Ascot Gold Cup three times.

In total, Stradivarius won his connections more than £5 million. We were all richer for his presence, and there can be little doubt that the horse enjoyed himself, too. The flashy chestnut with a blaze and
three white socks was renowned for being playful at Clarehaven, his home, delighting in showing what he could do prancing around on his hind legs. At the racecourse, he was often vocal and the whiff of a
nearby filly or mare would encourage him to exhibit virtues that no doubt now serves him well in his second vocation as a stallion at the National Stud.

“Stradivarius has been the most extraordinary and unique racehorse throughout his career,” trainer John Gosden OBE said on the day his stable star was retired. “He exhibited joy in his training and has given
enormous pleasure to everyone, both on and off the track. His constitution has been a marvel to behold and his exciting style of travelling easily in a race, and then quickening to pounce, reflected his character.”

Nielsen added: “I would love to see him go on for another eight years, but I think it’s time – and time for him to see if he can produce anything near himself in the next few years, which I certainly hope he can. Having a sound horse is half the battle really, and he’s certainly been that throughout. He had a tremendous will to win, great presence and was very fast. His times over the last two or three furlongs on all those big race days were very often the fastest of the day.”

Stradivarius battles to victory at York.

Stradivarius was bred with The Derby being the dream. His sire was one of the greats, Sea The Stars,  himself inducted into the Hall Of Fame this year, and his dam, Private Life, had already produced some
fair middle-distance performers.

However, it took Stradivarius three attempts to lose his maiden status, and instead of starting 2017 in a Classic trial, he found himself in a handicap at Beverley running off a rating of 79. A six-length win in that humdrum contest was the precursor to victory in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot followed by a first success in the Goodwood Cup, when he upstaged hot favourite Big Orange, who was seeking a record-equalling third win in the race. He was perceived as a party pooper that day, but was merely laying the foundations for a feat no horse had achieved in more than 200 years.

He went on to finish a close-up third behind Capri in the St Leger and filled the same position behind Order Of St George in the Long Distance Cup on QIPCO British Champions Day.

Such a platform served him well the following year when he won each of his five races. A fluent comeback win in the Yorkshire Cup teed him up for a pulsating half-length defeat of Vazirabad, the French ace, in the Gold Cup, with reigning champ Order Of St George back in fourth. He then dug deep to retain his Goodwood Cup crown, before a workmanlike success at York was followed by glory on QIPCO British Champions Day. In the process, he became the first Gold Cup winner to go through the full season unbeaten since Pardallo in 1968.

He wrapped up an astonishing 2018 season with a flawless display in the QIPCO Long Distance Cup on QIPCO British Champions Day.

His 2019 campaign was something of a mirror image with successive wins in the Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup, mostly at the main expense of Dee Ex Bee, who had been runner-up in the Derby the previous year. For variety, Stradivarius was also given a first chance to show what he could do in the Doncaster Cup and didn’t disappoint, thus becoming the first horse since Double Trigger, in 1995, to complete the Stayers’ Triple Crown of Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and Doncaster Cup in the same season.

He returned to Ascot for QIPCO British Champions Day unbeaten in two years. It looked like he would extend his winning sequence for much of the way, only for Kew Gardens, winner of the St Leger the
previous year, to pip him by a nose in a race that will long live in the memory.

Any thought that Stradivarius’s powers might be on the wane were dispelled the following year when he sauntered to a third Gold Cup win, by ten lengths, before bursting to the front late on to secure a historic fourth Goodwood Cup. The second half of his season was ambitiously geared towards winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe but he got stuck in the mud in the slowest renewal since 1976, and was clearly not over his exertions when running a rare poor race in the Long Distance Cup 13 days later.

Goodwood Racecourse holds fond memory for the Gosden horse, who landed a record fourth Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup in 2019.

In 2021, Stradivarius stuck to the staying scene and a reappearance win in the Longines Sagaro Stakes at Ascot on his return would be followed later in the summer with more victories in the Lonsdale Cup and Doncaster Cup. But in between he had been unable to match Yeats’ feat of winning four Gold Cups, finishing fourth to Subjectivist after meeting trouble in running, while he was a late non-runner from the Goodwood Cup because of soft ground. His campaign ended with successive defeats in the autumn behind Trueshan.

Stradivarius returned for a final hurrah last year. His comeback win in the Paddy Power Yorkshire Cup showed all his enthusiasm was intact, but it proved to be the last of his 20 victories. He was third to
Kyprios in the Gold Cup on his next start, when beaten just over a length, before being mastered by the same horse in a gripping Goodwood Cup.

Stradivarius’s first offspring will hit the track in 2025. If he stamps his stock with even half the attributes that he himself had, then they won’t be doing too bad.

Career Wins
Group Victories
Goodwood Cup’s
Gold Cup’s
Prize Money

Career Highlights

First Group Win

Announces himself as a smart stayer with victory in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot

£1 Million Bonus

Scoops a £1 million bonus for his connections by winning the Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup.

Unbeaten in the year

Caps a flawless year with QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup triumph.

A second £1 million bonus

Wins a second £1 million bonus, also landing the Doncaster Cup for good measure.

Third Gold Cup

Triumphs in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot for the third successive year, romping home by ten lengths.

History maker

Makes history by becoming the first horse to win the Goodwood Cup four times.

Final appearance

Beaten a neck by Kyprios attempting to win an incredible fifth Goodwood Cup in what proves the last of his 35 races.