Jockey Andrea Atzeni hailed a perfectly-executed strategy after riding Stradivarius to victory in the Goodwood Cup and denying Big Orange a place in flat-racing history.
Atzeni, who claimed four wins on an inspired opening day of the festival, outflanked fellow Italian Frankie Dettori to thwart Big Orange’s bid to become the first horse to win the £500,000 race three years in succession.
Big Orange adopted his usual front-running tactics, only for Atzeni to pilot the John Gosden-trained 6-1 shot Stradivarius to a 1¾ length triumph in the Group One race, while Desert Skyline came third.
“The main plan was not to go near Big Orange,” said Atzeni. “You can’t go near him as he’s a fighter. Going to the two pole I knew I had plenty of horse underneath me and I could see Big Orange wasn’t going away, so I thought I had him.
“I don’t think my fella knows how good he is yet. He’s still learning, mentally immature and raw. I don’t think even he knows he’s a racehorse. He could be anything, especially next year.”
All three of the festival’s opening Group races belonged to Atzeni after he steered home 4-1 chance Expert Eye and 50-1 outsider Breton Rock in the Vintage and Lennox Stakes respectively. That was followed by victory for Shenanigans in the handicap finale.
Despite his four-race blitz, failure to win on Uae Prince in the opening race left Atzeni unfulfilled. He added: “It’s been a good day but I’m still upset about the first race. If the first race had been the last I would have won. It’s all about confidence.”