Ascot Gold Cup
16:20 Royal Ascot, Thursday
Live on ITV
1. Alignak (Jamie Osborne/Saffie Osborne)
Produced some creditable efforts in defeat in Dubai at the start of the year but you have got to go back to the autumn of 2020 for the last time he tasted success and it would be a major surprise were he to snap that losing sequence here.
2. Earlofthecotswolds (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Liam Keniry)
Useful hurdler who has translated all that ability to the Flat this year, completing a hat-trick of wins on the all-weather when landing a valuable two-mile conditions event at Newcastle on Good Friday. This even longer trip will suit now switching to the turf for the first time in this sphere, but he'll need a good bit more to come out on top now up significantly in class.
3. Stradivarius (John & Thady Gosden/Frankie Dettori)
Suffered defeat when bidding for a fourth win in this race 12 months ago signalled the end of his domination of this division (also behind Trueshan on his final two starts) but a third win in the Yorkshire Cup on his reappearance last month shows this eight-year-old is still one of the very best stayers around. Seems sure to launch another bold bid.
4. Trueshan (Alan King/Hollie Doyle)
Established himself as the best stayer in Europe last year, winning the Goodwood Cup, the Prix du Cadran at Longchamp and the Long Distance Cup here (Stradivarius behind him in last two). Made a pleasing return when winning a listed event at Nottingham on his return and is the one to beat on form, but his trainer has stated he's unlikely to run if the ground stays good to firm.
5. Kyprios (Aidan O'Brien/Ryan Moore)
His rout in the Group 3 Levmoss at Leopardstown last month marks him down as the emerging force in the staying ranks. Furthermore, his pedigree strongly suggests that this marathon trip will be within range and he should make a bold bid to provide his trainer with a record-extending eighth win in this.
6. Mojo Star (Richard Hannon/Rossa Ryan)
Very smart colt who was runner-up in the Derby and the St Leger last year. He wasn't at his best in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on his final start, but he remains a top staying prospect moving into this season. Comes here without a prep run, though, which won't be an easy task.
7. Tashkhan (Brian Ellison/Ben Robinson)
Big improver for this yard last year, culminating with an excellent one and a half length second (Stradivarius third) to Trueshan in the Long Distance Cup here in November. Stradivarius took his revenge in the Yorkshire Cup but he performed with credit in third and this step up to two and a half miles should be right up his street. Would prefer more cut in the ground, though.
8. Bubble Smart (Mikel Delzangles/Gerald Mosse)
Smart stayer but behind Trueshan and Stradivarius in Prix du Cadran at Longchamp last autumn, and her two efforts this year have been no more than respectable. It's hard to believe she won't find a few too strong once again.
9. Burning Victory (Willie Mullins/William Buick)
She produced a very smart handicap performance when second to Buzz (the pair long way clear) in last year's Cesarewitch at Newmarket, and also won a Grade 3 over hurdles in February. However, her latest Punchestown fourth in that sphere only respectable, and others are preferred.
10. Princess Zoe (Anthony Mullins/J. M. Sheridan)
Won the 2020 Prix du Cadran and was an excellent second to Subjectivist in this 12 months ago. She warmed up for this year's renewal by taking the Sagaro Stakes over two miles here in April and is likely to give another good account of herself.