Ghaiyyath tops a select field of seven for Friday’s Hurworth Bloodstock Coronation Cup at Newmarket – the first British Group One in 2020.
The 12-furlong contest has been switched from its usual home at Epsom due to the impact of the coronavirus shutdown on the regular calendar, but it has still drawn a top-class line-up.
Ghaiyyath, who is trained by Charlie Appleby, was a 14-length winner of a German Group One last year and after disappointing in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, he bounced back with a bloodless win at Meydan in February.
The cancelled Sheema Classic had been his target, but the 126-rated runner gets his chance to shine now.
Ghaiyyath faces some stiff competition, though – not least from top stayer Stradivarius, who drops back in trip for John Gosden.
He has bagged a £1million bonus in each of the last two seasons for his staying exploits and has a hat-trick in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot as his big-race target after this prep run.
The six-year-old had been on a 10-race winning streak before suffering a narrow defeat on Champions Day at Ascot on his final start last term.
Aidan O’Brien has two contenders in last year’s Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, who failed to strike in five subsequent runs last term, and the Epsom fourth Broome.
Defoe won the Coronation Cup for Roger Varian in 2019 and is back to defend his title, while David Simcock’s Canadian International winner Desert Encounter and the Andrew Balding-trained Alounak complete the field.