Stradivarius is set to face seven rivals when he bids for a third successive victory in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot on Thursday.
John Gosden’s superstar chestnut has dominated the staying division for the past two seasons, winning back-to-back renewals of the Gold Cup, Yorkshire Cup, Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup to claim the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million in both 2018 and 2019.
Having made a pleasing start to the new campaign when third in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket almost a fortnight ago, Stradivarius will be a hot favourite to become the first horse since the legendary four-times winner Yeats to claim a Gold Cup hat-trick under Frankie Dettori.
The six-year-old’s biggest threat could be the Martyn Meade-trained Technician, who tackles the two-and-a-half-mile distance for the first time on what will be his first competitive start since landing the Group One Prix Royal-Oak at ParisLongchamp last October.
Charlie Appleby saddles the 2018 Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter, who was not too far behind Stradivarius at Ascot and Goodwood last summer, as well as Moonlight Spirit, who runs for the first time since being gelded.
Mark Johnston has booked Ryan Moore to partner his recent Sagaro Stakes victor Nayef Road, while Charlie Fellowes runs his globetrotting stable star Prince Of Arran, who was a shade over two lengths behind Nayef Road at Newcastle last time.
Roger Charlton’s Northumberland Plate winner and Cesarewitch scorer Withhold and Mekong from Jamie Osborne’s yard are the other hopefuls.