At the fifth time of asking in the past four months, Trueshan and Stradivarius finally went head-to-head in the Group One Prix du Cadran on Saturday. The result was an emphatic success for Trueshan, which left Stradivarius, the outstanding stayer of recent seasons, seemingly teetering close to retirement.
Trueshan had been a late absentee from three possible meetings with Stradivarius this season due to unsuitably fast ground, while his big rival in the race was taken out of the Goodwood Cup in July after heavy rain turned the going from good-to-firm to soft.
That left the way clear for Trueshan to land a major gamble on the Sussex Downs and he put up an even stronger performance here, charging clear of the field in the final furlong under James Doyle as Stradivarius could only stay on at one pace to finish four and a half lengths adrift in second.
“There was a bit of cat-and-mouse,” said the jockey, riding in place of the suspended and unrelated Hollie Doyle, “so we had to switch our tactics and be a little more aggressive but he’s such an amenable horse that he came back to me quite quickly.
“Someone we should mention is Hollie. She’s been a big part of this horse’s career and to miss out today through suspension is pretty tough. But that’s racing and it won’t be the first time or the last time that it happens, so good luck Hollie and you can look forward to him going forward.”
Bjorn Nielsen, Stradivarius’s owner, does not expect his seven-year-old to run on Champions Day at Ascot in a fortnight’s time, and may now be tempted to retire his brilliant stayer to stud.
“He’s had a hard race,” Nielsen said, “and the ground at Ascot is guaranteed to be on the soft side, which is not his kettle of fish. It’s probably the one place that he’s done poorest at, because of the ground.
“I don’t know [about next year]. I’ve got to speak to John and Thady [Gosden, his co-trainers] and see what they think. He’s been going a long time and this race is his trip, he was so dominant in 2018, 19 and 20 and age will get to you, ultimately.
“He’s obviously not as dominant as he once was, he used to just stalk and pick off horses, so we’ll see.”