Stradivarius will face a maximum of 12 rivals when he bids for his third successive victory in the Qatar Goodwood Cup on Tuesday.
John Gosden’s star stayer enjoyed a faultless campaign in 2018 – winning the Yorkshire Cup, the Gold Cup, the Goodwood Cup and the Lonsdale Cup to land a huge bonus through the inaugural Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million.
For good measure, the five-year-old added the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup back at Ascot in October to his seasonal haul, and has continued in the same vein this season – with successful defences of the Yorkshire Cup and the Gold Cup only strengthening his grip on the division.
Stradivarius will be a hot favourite to emulate the hugely popular Double Trigger by becoming a three-times Goodwood Cup winner. Double Trigger’s trainer, Mark Johnston, is set to field Dee Ex Bee, who was beaten just a length into second place by Stradivarius at Royal Ascot.
Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, said: “Dee Ex Bee is in good form and everything has been A1 with him since Royal Ascot.
“It is all systems go for the Goodwood Cup, but we are under no illusions about the task facing us with Stradivarius once again.
“Dee Ex Bee has been ticking over nicely and not much has changed with him or indeed the field he is likely to face on Tuesday. We will be facing the same rivals as in the Gold Cup, but we’re looking forward to running.
“It is going to be a big challenge to win the contest, but he’s a top-class horse and hopefully he can serve it up to his rivals.”
The Charlie Appleby-trained Cross Counter was fourth in the Gold Cup, and plenty will fancy the Melbourne Cup winner to at lease close the gap on those who finished in front of him back over two miles.
Aidan O’Brien has confirmed Cypress Creek, Southern France, Barbados, Constantinople, Harpo Marx and South Pacific for a race he won twice with the legendary stayer Yeats (2006 and 2008).
Tim Easterby’s Wells Farhh Go could step back up in class after making an impressive return from almost a year on the sidelines in the Fred Archer Stakes at Newmarket last month.
Andrew Balding’s pair of Cleonte and Dashing Willoughby and Luke Comer’s Raa Atoll complete the potential field.