Gosden trio on course for G1 highlights at Qatar Goodwood Festival, plus Japanese challenger Deirdre

Champion stayer Stradivarius is going for a record third straight win in the opening day highlight, the £500,000 G1 Qatar Goodwood Cup over two miles. The Mark Johnston-trained Double Trigger is the only three-time winner of the historic contest, having lifted the spoils in 1995, 1997 and 1998.

Stradivarius has looked as good as ever in two starts this season, capturing the G2 Yorkshire Cup at York in May before a second successive G1 Gold Cup victory at Royal Ascot last month, in which he defeated Dee Ex Bee, Master Of Reality and Cross Counter.

Stradivarius, photo Liesl King

Speaking at a press event in Newmarket this morning, Gosden said: "Stradivarius worked on Saturday and did his usual thing; he went a length clear and said that's it, I have done my bit. We are very happy with him ahead of the Qatar Goodwood Cup.

"Frankie [Dettori] and Stradivarius gel so well together - they make a great team. Stradivarius is a bit unusual for a stayer, but he is a real street fighter. He doesn't do a lot when he hits the front and I felt he was playing with them a bit at Ascot. He just does what he has to do and I think that has been huge contributory factor to his success. Let's not forget that this horse won at Beverley and then we managed to get him beat in a handicap at Chester.

"I have always held the viewpoint, having been told this by Charlie Whittingham and Willie Stephenson, that a Flat racehorse is at its peak at five. They are stronger and horses can reach their absolute zenith at five.

"We are hopeful the Stradivarius can win the Goodwood Cup again, but it is going to be a tough race and there will be a lot of people aiming to make it a hard race - it is going to be exciting.

"I have a lot of respect for Dee Ex Bee. He brings in the Derby form from last year when he split Masar and Roaring Lion, who was the champion over a mile and a quarter afterwards. The Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter is going to take us on again. I was concerned about him heading into Ascot because he has a turn of foot and has proven that he can turn it on in the hottest part of the race."

Too Darn Hot, photo Liesl King

Europe's unbeaten champion two-year-old of 2018, Too Darn Hot, is all set for the feature £1-million G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes over a mile on Wednesday, July 31.

Following a setback in the spring and placed efforts in the G2 Dante Stakes at York, G1 Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh and G1 St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, the three-year-old registered his first victory of the campaign when dropped back to seven furlongs for the G1 Prix Jean Prat at Deauville on July 7.

Gosden said: "Too Darn Hot showed last time in the Jean Prat what he is good at; he is a very quick horse and stupidly we tried to stretch him out earlier in the year after an interrupted prep when he had to miss the Guineas.

"I think we have got him back in the right place now and I was most impressed with the way he hit the line at Deauville over seven furlongs. I know a lot of people were doubting him, but we were very confident going there because his work had been brilliant beforehand. He showed us that he had come back to himself after a hellish spring.

"His ideal distance is probably somewhere between seven furlongs and an easy mile, I doubt we will be trying to go further than that. He is an extremely fast horse with bundles of natural speed. My only concern at Goodwood is that I will be watching the draw with anxious eyes.

"The mile at Goodwood is not the mile of Ascot or the Curragh. It is a quick mile and anyhow he wasn't right at the Curragh. You need agility at Goodwood and to that extent I think it is the kind of mile that he will appreciate.

"I think we have plenty of options with him later in the year. I am not frightened of looking at a Prix du Moulin and then there is the possibility of a Breeders' Cup at the end of year over a two-turn mile.

"We have entered him for the Haydock Sprint Cup over six furlongs and he will probably get an entry in the sprint on Champions Day too. He has certainly got the speed for it if you wanted to go that way.

"Our other Sussex Stakes entry King Of Comedy is in great form, but he will be looking at the Prix Jacques Les Marois instead on August 11. I think the straight mile at Deauville will suit him well.

"We have basically given him a break and freshen up since Ascot, as he was on the go fairly early in the spring. I think in the end his best trip will be a mile and a quarter - everything he shows me and his family suggests it will be. Proper mile and a quarter races like the Irish Champion Stakes and Ascot on Champions Day could be right up his alley."

Gosden revealed that Frankel three-year-old filly Mehdaayih will take her chance in the £600,000 G1 Qatar Nassau Stakes over nearly 10 furlongs on Thursday, August 1, a race the trainer has won four times already.

The trainer reported: "Meydaayih won the G2 Prix de Malleret [June 30] nicely, having been unlucky when knocked about in the Oaks at Epsom.

"She quickened very well in France off a slow pace, so we think the Nassau will be a proper race to run her in." 

The Qatar Sussex Stakes, Qatar Nassau Stakes and Qatar Goodwood Cup are all part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

 Japanese challenger Deirdre heading to Qatar Nassau Stakes

Seiko Hashida, daughter of Deirdre's trainer Mitsuru Hashida, is looking forward to the star Japanese mare running for the second time in Britain during the Qatar Goodwood Festival. She is hoping that Oisin Murphy can partner Deirdre.

The five-year-old Harbinger mare, a G1 winner in Japan, was unsuited by the soft ground when sixth in the 10-furlong G1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 19 - her first experience of racing in Britain.

She is set to run in the G1 Qatar Nassau Stakes over just short of 10 furlongs on the third day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, Ladies' Day, Thursday, August 1.

Seiko Hashida reported today from Abington Place Stables in Newmarket: "We have been pleased with Deirdre since Royal Ascot. She is very relaxed.

"We have learned a lot about Newmarket Heath as she has been here for more than two months now, coming on from Hong Kong where she raced at the end of April.

"Deirdre is really settled here - she likes being in Newmarket. She usually goes to Warren Hill and Long Hill in the mornings.

"She tried really hard at Ascot, but was not used to the heavy rain and soft ground, plus the uphill and downhill of the track.

"We have taken her to Goodwood, which is very different from Japanese racecourses. We wanted to show her the course beforehand. The course is undulating and I think she will like it. The faster ground at Goodwood will be more suitable.

"Goodwood Racecourse maybe is a little bit tricky and different from Japanese tracks so we thought it would be better if we had a jockey who knows Goodwood Racecourse and is an experienced rider.

"Oisin Murphy will ride her for the first time tomorrow morning in a piece of work. We are not a 100 per cent sure yet whether Oisin can ride her in the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood - that will depend on what others run in the race. We are waiting on the answer.

"The plan afterwards depends on how she gets on at Goodwood, but we would like to run her again once or twice more, hopefully in Europe."

Deirdre is likely to retire to stud at the end of the year.