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Charlton not running scared of Stradivarius after Withhold impresses on return

Roger Charlton is relishing the challenge of taking on the staying division's dominant force Stradivarius with Marsh Cup winner Withhold.

The six-year-old, owned by Brighton and Hove Albion chairman Tony Bloom, has endured injury problems but proved he has retained all his ability after Saturday's impressive victory at Newbury following a 269-day absence.

Withhold, who landed the Cesarewitch in 2017 and Northumberland Plate in 2018, will head to York next to contest either the Sky Bet Ebor – worth £1 million this year – or step up to Group 2 company to tackle Stradivarius in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup.

Charlton said: "We were all thrilled and he seems to have come out of the race very well. The weights for the Ebor are published on Tuesday so a lot will depend on the handicapper's reaction to Saturday's win as to whether we run him in the Ebor or the Lonsdale Cup.

"It would be great [to take on Stradivarius] and he would have to give us a penalty. We are just about out of handicaps now so you'd expect him to progress into Pattern races."

If Stradivarius wins the Goodwood Cup he will need to land the Lonsdale Cup to claim a second Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers' Million prize.

John Gosden's star stayer has won his last seven starts and has not been beaten since October 2017 but Charlton is not afraid of the challenge.

He said: "Stradivarius is a very special horse but when you get to those big ratings there aren't that many races at the top level. It would be nice to have a runner in a Cup race."

Withhold has never been tested at Group level but has progressed through the handicap ranks and won Saturday's contest off a lofty mark of 107.

Charlton believes there could be even more to come and said: "He beat some decent horses. I think he has a very good profile and he is improving. That was first time out yesterday so you are always hoping there is more to come but never really know.

"He is probably four or five pounds behind the best stayer in the country so we should be competitive in Cup races."

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