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Gold Cup hero Stradivarius centre of attention in new home at National Stud

Gold Cup hero Stradivarius centre of attention in new home at National Stud
Gold Cup hero Stradivarius centre of attention in new home at National Stud

There was a time when Stradivarius would be the headline attraction in the week of Royal Ascot. But the three-time Gold Cup hero in the hands of Frankie Dettori is now centre of attention in his new home at the National Stud, as he thrives in his second career as a stallion.

The son of Sea The Stars won at the Royal meeting for four straight years between 2017 and 2020, as he amassed almost £3.5million in prize-money and a European record 18 Group-level wins during a stellar stint on the racecourse.

Bjorn Nielsen’s exceptional stayer was expertly handled by firstly John Gosden and then in conjunction with his son Thady during his decorated on-track career, but now it is the team at the National Stud who are central to the next phase of the 10-year-old’s life, overseeing the transition from champion racehorse to star stallion.

Stradivarius with regular jockey Frankie Dettori and owner Bjorn Nielsen
Stradivarius with regular jockey Frankie Dettori and owner Bjorn Nielsen (Mike Egerton/PA)

The National Stud also stands well-known names such as ex-Ballydoyle performer Lope Y Fernandez, Coventry Stakes hero Rajasinghe, Time Test and its newest recruit Mutasaabeq.

However, just like in his racing career, there is one horse who rules the roost in this tranquil part of Newmarket, with Stradivarius making himself right at home from the moment he left Clarehaven.

“He’s doing brilliantly and it takes any stallion some time to get used to their new surroundings, new routine, new job, but he’s very much into his routine now and is a very happy horse, which is very important,” said Joe Bradley, Head of Bloodstock at the National Stud.

“He loves his job and loves living here and enjoys the attention. I couldn’t have been happier with how the transition went.

Stradivarius has taken well to his new role at the National Stud
Stradivarius has taken well to his new role (Peter Mooney/The National Stud)

“He is down in the same area as the four other stallions and he definitely likes to think he’s the boss. He definitely has an aura and presence around him and I think you can only tell that when you are around him.

“He has a massive personality and is first out onto the walker, first out into the paddock, first into the shed – and we do that to make sure he is happy, which he is.”

Bradley is the man trusted in ensuring Stradivarius receives the support his racing CV deserves and having covered 120 mares in his first season – including the likes of Park Hill Stakes winner Gretchen – there are encouraging signs that he will find his place in a competitive market.

“He’s now into his second season and there are two strands to Strad,” explained Bradley.

“There’s the public side, where he is loved by more people than I ever believed would be that passionate about a horse like this, so he has been great in that regard and the interest in him from a public perspective has been as strong as it ever was.

“Then you have the very serious business of making a stallion and giving him a chance of being a champion stallion, which is ultimately what everyone is trying to do.

“He covered 120 mares in his first season and he’s covered 105 this season, so we are very happy with how things are going from that side of things as well.

“We are heading to the foal sales in December with some very nice foals and some really good owner-breeders will have their own stock to race as well.”

There are always challenges that face new stallions, but with champion credentials, Stradivarius has had little trouble attracting well-known breeders to send mares to his door.

Bradley went on: “There is a very strong bank of breeding rights owners who support the horse every year and the breeders involved in the horse and the breeders who are sending mares are renowned breeders who are very happy to use a horse like Stradivarius, given the quality, the longevity and how he looks physically.

“It’s a diverse group, but primarily owner-breeders who want to race their stock.”

The National Stud’s determination to make Stradivarius a success in the breeding sheds is supported by a generous bonus structure – and with the chestnut himself a winner at two, it could make for some fireworks when his first crop hit the track.

“We’ve got the breeders’ bonuses attached to his first and second crop and that is to encourage the breeders to use this profile of horse,” continued Bradley.

Stradivarius at his new home in Newmarket
Stradivarius at his new home in Newmarket (Peter Mooney/The National Stud)

“There is £25,000 for the first 10 two-year-old winners, £100,000 if you win a Group Two or Group Three and £250,000 to the breeder if you win a Group One. It’s a huge incentive for people to use the horse in the last couple of years and it will be exciting when they hit the track.

“Not everyone will be interested in the bonuses, but there are lots who are and sometimes you just need those sort of things to bolster the want to breed to these horses, and I think it has worked and adds an excitement when it comes to racing – hopefully people will be gunning to win these races.”

Stradivarius’ longevity, combined with his charismatic nature and string of victories, made him one of the most popular Flat performers of modern times and he became one of the few racehorses whose name transcended into the wider public conscience.

His popularity is helping put plenty of eyeballs on the National Stud, where Stradivarius laps up the attention of the many who pay him a visit – may they be bloodstock industry insiders or paying visitors enjoying a behind-the-scenes tour.

Stradivarius is applauded by racegoers in the parade ring after finishing second in his final race at Goodwood
Stradivarius is applauded by racegoers in the parade ring after finishing second in his final race at Goodwood (Steven Paston/PA)

“There’s some horses that are well known and then there is probably a level above that where they become superstars and that can span across many countries,” continued Bradley.

“He definitely fits into that category, everybody knows him and we get tours and we have people visit who aren’t overly involved in the industry and knowledgeable about horses – and a lot of them still know the name Stradivarius.”

Not your typical stayer, Stradivarius had the speed to not only nullify his rivals in the marathon division but also hold his own at group level over a mile and a half during his career.

However, it is his maiden win at Newcastle that exemplifies the characteristic Bradley feels is his finest asset – and that is the sheer tenacity and dedication to his job that saw him triumph magnificently on a regular basis during his racing career.

“People forget about his two-year-old race at Newcastle because of the Gold Cups and everything else he won,” added Bradley.

“It was his first victory and he looked beat, he was half a length behind over a mile as a two-year-old.

“That’s my favourite race of his ever and will always be what I think of, because he showed this unbelievable will to win and tenacity. Rab Havlin said it when he was interviewed and it really stuck with me.

“Can you see that tenacity and will to win in the shed? Probably not, but he is very professional and he knows exactly what needs to be done and he knows exactly how to behave, whether that be in the shed, in his box or out in the paddocks.

“I suppose what I’m trying to say is, he is a very intelligent horse and he is always aware of his surroundings and what is required. He does exactly what is required of him in a very efficient way.”

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