Trainer John Gosden has not ruled out an attempt to win the Melbourne Cup with his outstanding four-year-old Stradivarius, after a memorable victory in the £500,000 ($963,000) Gold Cup over 4000m at Royal Ascot yesterday.
The chestnut son of Sea The Stars has asserted himself as the new staying champion of Europe, with wins in the group two Yorkshire Cup at York and now Royal Ascot's most prestigious race this season.
Having also won last year's Queen's Vase before taking out the group one Goodwood Cup, Strad-ivarius has built an imposing record in feature staying contests over the past 12 months, reports racing.com.
Racing handy to the pace under Frankie Dettori, Stradivarius was able to hold off a strong finish from French galloper Vazirabad to take the prize, with a brave Torcedor staying on gallantly for third ahead of previous winner Order Of St George.
Gosden and owner Bjorn Nielsen now have a variety of options in front of them, including racing for a £1 million bonus if he could win the Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup in the coming months.
In an attempt to stop the best UK-trained stayers from campaigning overseas, Weatherbys Hamilton have offered the prize for a series of races during the flat season.
At the end of the rainbow could be the Melbourne Cup and its A$7.3m prizemoney pool.
It's a race Gosden would love to win but he is worried about the weight that his "little horse" may get.
"We love the Melbourne Cup, it is very much on the agenda and the entry will not be forgotten," he said.
Gosden has been to Melbourne before, preparing Gatewood for the 2012 Melbourne Cup only for the horse to miss making the final field.
There would be no such problems if he decides to come this year.
With Stradivarius already carrying an official rating of 118 going into the Gold Cup, it would be expected that he would be near the top of the weights - if not topweight - if he was to contest Australia's greatest race.
Placegetters Vazirabad, trained by 2010 Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Alain De Royer-Dupre, and Torcedor, owned by New Zealand syndication group Te Akau Racing and trained by Jessica Harrington, could also make their way to Victoria for Flemington's big day in November.
Both horses gave their all but were beaten by a better stayer.
With jockey Colm O'Donoghue sporting the Te Akau silks, Torcedor, the son of Fastnet Rock, settled second before hitting the front 400m from home but was run down.
"He drew the outside and I thought it was a terrific run," Te Akau principal David Ellis said of the gallant run by Torcedor. "It was a fantastic effort and I was really proud of him.
"The Gold Cup is an incredibly prestigious race, one of the best staying tests in the world, and ultimately the Queen presents the cup to the owners, so it's an amazing event."
Ellis bought Torcedor at the 2013 Deauville Yearling Sales for €70,000 ($115,000) and his New Zealand owners include Sir Patrick Hogan, Sir Peter Vela and Laurie Laxon.
Trained by Harrington in Ireland, Torcedor has won five races including two at group three level - the Sagaro Stakes (3000m) and the Vintage Crop Stakes (2800m).
"He'll have a bit of a breather back in Ireland now," Ellis said. "He's a horse that's improving all the time, a pretty exciting staying prospect and he could win the Gold Cup next year."
- racing.com, NZ Racing Desk