If we’re going to put a label on Stradivarius, the obvious one would be “crafty veteran.” It’s the perfect description for an 8-year-old staying legend who’s on the cusp of furthering his legacy.

Stradivarius-Royal Ascot
Stradivarius and Frankie Dettori are trying to put a bow on the 8-year-old’s stellar Royal Ascot success in Thursday’s Group 1 Gold Cup. The standout stayer owns three victories in the event. (Image: Mathea Kelley)

The three-time defending champion of the Gold Cup, Royal Ascot’s marquee race, will attempt to join Yeats (2006-09) as the only four-time Gold Cup winners. That run at history headlines Thursday’s Royal Ascot card.

“He gets the job done. He’s like an old pro now — he knows what he wants to do and how he’s going to do it,” trainer John Gosden told Ascot. “He goes in the ring, he does what he has to do, and then it’s back home. He’s not going to do anything exuberant these days — none of this winning by wide margins. He boxes a bit cleverly.”

Stradivarius strung himself a record worthy of his name. He owns the European record for most Group (graded) race wins with 18. He’s banked more than £5 million in earnings, appropriate, given his workload on the track.

Stradivarius defines the equine ‘marathoner’

And it’s been a workload. In his 33 career races, Stradivarius put in more than 64 miles on the racetrack alone. It’s estimated that at his training base in Newmarket, Stradivarius ran more than 8,000 miles.

“In Flat stables, you don’t normally have horses around for as long as he’s been with us,” Gosden said. “They are usually moving on at three, four, or five. He’s become part of the place, but I think he deserves another form of life, which I think he’ll really enjoy.

“You’d have to argue that he was probably in his prime at five, maybe six, and at eight, you have to face facts. It’s like the boxer getting back in the ring too late in their career. But he’s up for it at the moment.”

A forgettable day for Ward

That Stradivarius is up for it at the moment became clear when he won the Yorkshire Cup at York last month for that record-breaking 18th Group win. That was the Sea the Stars progeny’s 20th career victory. He has four seconds and four thirds.

“It’s great to have him still running so well at this level. He’s won the Yorkshire Cup this year, and let’s hope he goes and puts in a big one at Ascot,” Gosden said.

Elsewhere Wednesday at Royal Ascot, both of Wesley Ward’s starters misfired. One of those — Love Reigns — led jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. to a five-day suspension for careless riding.

Ortiz’s unpleasant British invasion continues

According to the British Horseracing Authority, Ortiz got in trouble not long after the start of the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes. Stewards ruled that coming out of the gate, Ortiz allowed Love Reigns “to drift left-handed without sufficient correction,” according to the BHA website.

That caused three other runners to alter their paths and a fourth horse to nearly dump its rider when it clipped heels. After taking an early lead, Love Reigns finished fourth to 5/2 favorite Dramatised, who won jockey Danny Tudhope his third consecutive Royal Ascot race.

There was far less drama involved in Seismic Spirit’s outing in the Listed Windsor Castle. He finished 23rd of 24 as Aidan O’Brien’s Little Big Bear captured the race. That gave the standout Irish trainer his first Royal Ascot score this meet. He was 0-for-12 going into the Windsor Castle.

State of Rest rolls at Royal Ascot

Elsewhere, State of Rest won his fourth top-class prize in as many countries with a gate-to-wire victory in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’ Stakes. That earned the 5/1 Irish-bred horse a “Win and You’re In” spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

State of Rest won the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational last summer. He followed that by going down under and taking the Group 1 Cox Plate in Australia. He returned to Europe in time to win the Group 1 Prix Ganay earlier this year.