The Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million was launched last year, offering a £1 million bonus to the connections of any horse that could win one of four selected prep races – The Sagaro Stakes at Ascot, The Ormonde Stakes at Chester, The Yorkshire Cup at York or the Henry II Stakes at Sandown – and then go on to win the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, The Goodwood Cup and the Lonsdale Cup – with the final race sponsored by Weatherbys Hamilton.
The inaugural running of the series was taken by John Gosden’s Stradivarius, who remained unbeaten from his five starts last season. Starting the campaign with victory in the Yorkshire Cup, which he bids to defend on Friday. View our York Tips Page for selections for every race at the Dante Meeting.
Earlier this year, the sponsors announced that four additional qualifying races would be added to the Stayers’ Million. The Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan, Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan, International Oleander-Rennen at Berlin-Hoppegarten and Prix Vicomtesse Vigier at Longchamp add an international flavour to the series, providing many more connections with dreams of landing the bonus.
Dubai Gold Cup – March 30th – Cross Counter
Vintage Crop Stakes – April 28th – Master Of Reality
Sagaro Stakes – May 1st – Dee Ex Bee
Ormonde Stakes – May 9th – Morando
International Oleander-Rennen – May 12th – Raa Atoll
As already mentioned, Stradivarius will be bidding to land Friday’s Yorkshire Cup on route to the Gold Cup, and he is currently a best priced 4/5 to do so. The Bjorn Nielsen owned five-year-old is 11/2 with Paddy Power to land back to back Stayers’ Millions, but he will undoubtedly face some younger, less exposed, rivals this year, notably, the Charlie Appleby trained Cross Counter.
Cross Counter became the first British-trained winner of the Melbourne Cup last year, and he made a winning return to action in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan in March – beating stablemate Ispolini by just over a length. The aforementioned Ispolini should provide connections with a good idea of what is needed to defeat the mighty Stradivarius when he takes on that rival in Friday’s Yorkshire Cup.
Whilst a bid to retain his Melbourne Cup Crown will undoubtedly be the main target for Cross Counter this year, he looks sure to contest the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot prior to that engagement, and success in that race may tempt his owners Godolphin to focus his campaign on the Stayers’ Million, with there being a good gap between the finale of this series, the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup, and the Melbourne Cup.
For that reason, the 33/1 currently on offer with Paddy Power on Cross Counter landing the Stayers’ Million looks potentially overpriced.