Defending champion Stradivarius features in 13 high-class confirmations for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot on Thursday.
Back in winning action again in last month’s Yorkshire Cup, John Gosden’s star triumphed by three-quarters of a length last year from French challenger Vazirabad – who is an absentee on this occasion.
Frankie Dettori’s mount went on to land the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million bonus 12 months ago, as he added the Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup to his haul.
That could be the route taken by Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter, who is set to represent Charlie Appleby. He was last seen winning the Dubai Gold Cup on World Cup night in March.
Mark Johnston’s Classic-placed Dee Ex Bee has emerged as a staying force this season and is also eligible for the bonus, having won the Sagaro Stakes and Henry II Stakes.
Aidan O’Brien’s St Leger winner Kew Gardens is in line to step up in trip – with the Ballydoyle handler also currently represented by Capri, winner of the 2017 Irish Derby. Cypress Creek, Flag Of Honour and Southern France are others for O’Brien.
Further Irish interest comes in the shape of the Willie Mullins-trained Thomas Hobson, who chased Stradivarius home in the Long Distance Cup on British Champions Day in October, and Joseph O’Brien’s Master Of Reality.
Magic Circle is in contention for Ian Williams – while Richard Hannon can call on Sagaro runner-up Raymond Tusk, and there is once again a French flavour with Pia Brandt’s Called To The Bar.