Timeform bring you their comprehensive runner-by-runner guide to the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot on Thursday and pick out their 1-2-3.
"He can emulate the mighty Yeats and land a fourth Gold Cup..."
Timeform on Stradivarius
1. Nayef Road (Mark Johnston/Ben Curtis)
Chased home Stradivarius in this last year but has a couple of heavy defeats to put behind him this time around. Hard to fancy.
2. Rip Van Lips (Andreas Suborics, Germany/James Doyle)
Back to winning ways in 2m Group 2 in Germany six weeks ago. Suspect he'll stay this longer trip but he looks out of his depth in this company.
3. Spanish Mission (Andrew Balding/William Buick)
Proved better than ever when resuming winning ways in the Yorkshire Cup (1¾m) by two and three quarter lengths from Santiago last month. Usually comes up short at the top level, but his consistency means he is always hard to rule out, and he showed plenty of stamina when winning the Doncaster Cup (2¼m) last season.
4. Stradivarius (John & Thady Gosden/Frankie Dettori)
The outstanding stayer of recent times who recorded a third successive win in this race 12 months ago. He also went on to record a fourth success in the Goodwood Cup. Made a perfect return to action when winning the Sagaro Stakes (2m) here last month, doing just enough once in front. The one to beat as he goes in search of a record-equalling fourth win.
5. Trueshan (Alan King/Hollie Doyle)
Won four of his five starts in 2019 and took his form to a new level last season, signing off with a commanding victory in the 2m Long Distance Cup (by seven and a half lengths from Search For A Song) at this course. Shaped very well over an inadequate trip in the Ormonde Stakes (13.4f) at Chester on his return and is a most interesting runner. Worth a try at this longer trip.
6. Twilight Payment (Joseph O'Brien, Ireland/Tom Marquand)
Gave his trainer a second win in the Melbourne Cup (by half a length from Tiger Moth) at Flemington in November, but didn't come on for his reappearance when only five and a half lengths third to Emperor of The Sun at Leopardstown last time. Has stamina to prove.
7. Amhran Na Bhfiann (Aidan O'Brien, Ireland/Wayne Lordan)
Lightly-raced Derby third who opened his account easily in Dundalk maiden in April. Possibly amiss behind Emperor of The Sun at Leopardstown since and the blinkers go on now. Remains unexposed.
8. Ben Lilly (David Brown/Kevin Stott)
Useful handicapper who has been a credit to his trainer but surely biting off more than he can chew in this stepped up in trip.
9. Emperor of The Sun (Donnacha O'Brien, Ireland/Gavin Ryan)
Built on his encouraging comeback when winning a 1¾m listed event (by three and a half lengths from Search For A Song) at Leopardstown last month, not having to improve but driven clear to win comfortably. Will stay at least 2m so is well worth a shot at this.
10. Santiago (Aidan O'Brien, Ireland/Seamie Heffernan)
Won the Queen's Vase (1¾m) at this meeting last year and followed up in the Irish Derby at the Curragh eight days later. Found Stradivarius too strong in the Goodwood Cup, though, and he seemingly had no excuses behind Spanish Mission last month. Needs to improve for this longer trip.
11. Serpentine (Aidan O'Brien, Ireland/Ryan Moore)
Made all under an enterprising ride to win the Derby by five and a half lengths last season, but that form did not work out well and he was beaten on subsequent starts in the Grand Prix de Paris and Champion Stakes. Disappointed in the Tattersalls Gold Cup on his return but is a fascinating supplementary entry.
12. Subjectivist (Mark Johnston/Joe Fanning)
Relished the test of stamina when winning a heavy-ground Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp last season and was electric when bolting up in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan in March. Should be well suited by the step up in trip and looks the main danger to Stradivarius.
13. Princess Zoe (Tony Mullins, Ireland/Joey Sheridan)
Completed a stunning five-timer in the Prix du Cadran in 2020, so she won't want for stamina, and she caught the eye on her latest start. Could ruffle a few feathers if back on song back up in distance.
Timeform's Analyst Verdict
STRADIVARIUS has dominated this division since 2018 and went with all his usual zest when winning the Sagaro here on his return. He can emulate the mighty Yeats and land a fourth Gold Cup. Subjectivist and Trueshan look the chief dangers.