ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND – Bjorn Nielsen homebred Stradivarius stamped himself firmly as the world’s best stayer on Thursday as he put on a dominating performance to win his third straight Ascot Gold Cup (G1) on Day 3 of the 2020 Royal Ascot Meet.

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Sent off as the 1/2 stateside favorite under Frankie Dettori, Stradivarius settled into a close fifth while Nayef Road led Moonlight Spirit through much of the early going. The field of eight remained relatively compact as they navigated the marathon 2 1/2-mile event over a soft going.

Beginning to move forward with 6 furlongs remaining, Stradivarius got the green light from Dettori as he swung around the corner. Remarkably still well in hand under a very confident rider, Stradivarius blew past an all-out Nayef Road near the 2-furlong marker as if he was standing still, then kept cruising all the way home while never asked to run.

Putting forth perhaps the best effort of his star-studded career, the John Gosden-tarined Stradivarius crossed 10 lengths the best in a final time of 4:32.60.

“It’s a wonderful feeling and I’m very proud of the horse,” Dettori said. “I’ve ridden some really great horses and he is one of them.”

Nayef Road stayed on for second, 8 lengths better than Cross Counter. Behind them came Withhold, Mekong, Prince Of Arran, Technician, and Moonlight Spirit to complete the order of finish.

Stradivarius became the third horse ever to win three straight Gold Cups, having also clinched the 2018 and 2019 editions over much firmer and faster ground. The 6-year-old intact son of Sea The Stars improved his overall record to 22-15-2-3.

“He’s a real character,” Dettori said. “He wears his heart on his sleeve and he’s great to be around.”

Stradivarius brought back $3 to win and $2.40 to place, Nayef Road brought back $5 to place, and Cross Counter paid $4.20 to place.