History beckons as Stradivarius tops Gold Cup contenders

Stradivarius is set to face 12 rivals when he bids for a record-equalling fourth victory in the Gold Cup at Ascot.

John and Thady Gosden’s brilliant stayer will draw level with the great Yeats if he is triumphant for a fourth successive season, and will be steered by usual rider Frankie Dettori as he attempts to defend his title.

Among his opponents, however, trainer Alan King has warned Trueshan will only run on Thursday if forecast rain arrives to ease the current good to firm ground.

A Group Two winner over two miles at Ascot last year, the five-year-old will again be ridden by Hollie Doyle – but King has made it clear his participation depends on the weather.

The Barbury Castle trainer said: “I’ve declared Trueshan for the Gold Cup, but I just wanted to make everyone aware that he will only run if there is sufficient rain.

“I’m very happy with the horse, and there is the possibility of some rain, so we’ll just have to see what happens.”

Last year’s Gold Cup runner-up Nayef Road will try again, having finished a 10 lengths behind Stradivarius 12 months ago.

Nayef Road’s trainer Mark Johnston will also saddle his impressive Dubai Gold Cup winner Subjectivist, who runs for the first time since taking the Meydan Group Two in late March.

Andrew Balding is represented by Yorkshire Cup hero Spanish Mission, who defeated both Santiago and a lacklustre Nayef Road when winning last month’s Group Two on the Knavesmire by two and three-quarter lengths.

Aidan O’Brien will field a trio of runners, with Serpentine a fascinating inclusion – having never previously gone beyond the mile-and-a-half trip over which he was a surprise 25-1 winner of the 2020 Derby.

Serpentine is a fascinating runner for Aidan O'Brien
Serpentine is a fascinating runner for Aidan O’Brien (Bill Selwyn/PA)

Amhran Na Bhfiann was third in last year’s Epsom Classic and he too takes his chance after a low-key start to the season.

Santiago is also in O’Brien’s team, searching for his first success since taking the 2020 Irish Derby.

O’Brien’s eldest son Joseph is set to run Melbourne Cup hero Twilight Payment, with his younger brother Donnacha represented by Emperor Of The Sun.

Ireland have a further chance in the shape of Tony Mullins’ Princess Zoe, who was a Group One winner in the Qatar Prix du Cadran at ParisLongchamp in October.

German trainer Andreas Suborics will saddle Rip Van Lips, competing on British turf for the first time, and the field is completed by David Brown’s 100-1 outsider Ben Lilly.

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