Stradivarius will face just four rivals as he attempts to win the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York for the second successive year.
If he wins the Group Two again on Friday, John Gosden’s star stayer will land the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million for a second time.
Having already won the Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup at Ascot, and the Goodwood Cup, he is aiming to replicate his exploits of 12 months ago.
In opposition once again is Mark Johnston’s Dee Ex Bee, who has been Stradivarius’ nearest pursuer at Ascot and Goodwood – and he closed the gap to within a neck at the latter venue.
Dermot Weld’s Falcon Eight is a new rival for him to consider. The four-year-old was a narrow winner at Sandown last time out.
Ian Williams’ Magic Circle, winner of the Chester Cup last season, is aiming to bounce back to form – with Aidan O’Brien represented by Il Paradiso.
Though some will be surprised to hear it, if Stradivarius is successful again Weatherbys Hamilton chief executive Charles Hamilton will be only too pleased to hand over a second cheque for £1million to owner breeder Bjorn Nielsen.
Hamilton said: “Some have said that it is unlucky for us that the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million has coincided with the brilliance of Stradivarius, but nothing could be further from the truth.
“He is the horse of a generation and we are so fortunate to have him as the poster boy for the stayers and the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million.
“Stradivarius embodies all the qualities of courage, soundness and will to win that has defined the thoroughbred since racing began in earnest in the 17th century and is precisely what the Million was designed to promote.
“We are not waving the white flag just yet, with one race still standing between Stradivarius and his second Million, but whatever the result the success of the series has massively exceeded our expectations.”
Hamilton added: “It is extraordinary to be on the brink of being asked to write out a second successive £1million cheque, but then Stradivarius is no ordinary horse. Victory in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup would be a ninth in a row – a prodigious achievement for any horse at the top level but even more so in one who races over long distances.
“We could not be more thrilled with the way that the 2019 Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million has continued to capture attention and concentrate focus on the special attraction of the stayers.”
A field of 14 will go to post for the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes.
The form pick is Richard Hannon’s Threat, who finished second in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood.
Karl Burke is doubly represented with Dubai Station, the mount of Frankie Dettori, and Lord Of The Lodge – who will be ridden by Ben Curtis.
Kevin Ryan has a strong numerical presence – with Abstemious (Jamie Spencer), Byline (Kevin Stott) and Repartee (Andrea Atzeni) all lining up.
Other interesting contenders include Declan Carroll’s Spartan Fighter, who beat Norfolk and Prix Robert Papin winner A’Ali at Ripon earlier in the season, and Marco Botti’s Malotru – winner of an Italian Group Three.
O’Brien’s sole runner is Pistoletto, who lost his unbeaten record in the Anglesey Stakes last time out.