We launched the 2019 Million at John Gosden’s Clarehaven Stables in March in front of a large press and industry contingent. Stradivarius looked magnificent and ready to take on all challengers.
In winning the inaugural Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million in 2018 Stradivarius not only showed himself to be an exceptional horse but promoted the Stayers in a way that we could only have dreamed of 12 months earlier. The narrative that Stradivarius created by winning his prep race in May, the Betway Yorkshire Cup, before embarking on his epic sequence at Ascot, Goodwood and York attracted huge media attention. By featuring as a headline on the main ITV news in the aftermath of the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup, racing and the Stayers reached a far wider audience than normal and showcased the heroic qualities of these Trojans of The Turf in an unforgettable way.
In order to generate even more interest this year and to extend the Million’s reach, we introduced four additional qualifying races in Dubai, Ireland, Germany and France, to make eight in total.
Cross Counter, the 2018 Melbourne Cup winner, kicked off proceedings by winning the Dubai Gold Cup in March and he was followed by Master of Reality (Ireland), Raa Atoll (Germany) and Call To The Bar (France). On home soil Stradivarius took the first step towards his second Million by winning the Yorkshire Cup again, but another serious threat has now appeared in the shape of Dee Ex Bee who has won both the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot and the Henry II Stakes at Sandown. The eighth race, the Ormonde stakes at Chester was won by Morando.
At this stage Cross Counter and Dee Ex Bee look the main threats to Stradivarius but none of the others can be discounted and the Gold Cup at Ascot, the first of the big three that a budding millionaire has to win, is boiling up to be the race of the meeting. In scooping the Million last year Stradivarius had to put in in some exceptional performances but this time it looks as if he is going to be tested even harder.
The whole concept of the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million has worked out brilliantly and we are seeing a concerted effort in Europe to support the Stayers and a very welcome strengthening of their programme. The importance of retaining their bloodlines is now widely accepted if European racing is to retain its unique diversity and attraction. As a leading participant in the bloodstock industry, Weatherbys Hamilton is very proud to be playing its part and thrilled that the Stayers’ Million has succeeded in becoming a talisman for these wonderful horses.
Article written by Charles Hamilton, Founding CEO of Weatherbys Hamilton, on 7th June 2019.