Last year’s Derby hero Serpentine was completed to face Stradivarius in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Serpentine won the Epsom Classic shock 25-1 last season – before failing to score in two subsequent starts.
He was well beaten on his return to action in the Tattersalls Gold Cup last month, but Connections have racked up £ 30,000 to add him to the pitch for Thursday’s Group 1 feature next week, which takes place over two and a half miles – a full mile farther than Serpentine has tackled before.
O’Brien also has Santiago, winner of last year’s Queen’s Vase and Irish Derby, as well as Amhrann Na Bhfiann – who finished third at Epsom in 2020.
Remaining star Stradivarius is a big favorite as he aims for a fourth consecutive Gold Cup victory.
If the seven-year-old trained by John and Thady Gosden were to win again, he would become just the second four-time winner of the big race – joining Yeats, who triumphed in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Stradivarius was a 10-length winner last season – and after making a few disappointing runs late last year, he returned to winning form in the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot in April.
Nayef Road was back third that day and second in the Gold Cup 12 months ago, and he’s one of two possibilities for Mark Johnston – along with his more sophisticated teammate Subjectivist.
The four-year-old won the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan during his salvation in 2021 in March, and Johnston is relishing a Gold Cup race – having won the race with Double Trigger in 1995 and Royal Rebel in 2001 and 2002.
Johnston told Tattersalls: “Subjectivist is competing in the Ascot Gold Cup next week, and that has always been his target.
“We haven’t had a winner at the Dubai World Cup night since 2000, so 21 years old, and in this race we couldn’t have been happier. It was a great race to win , and in great style.
“I went to the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale in 2018. We knew Subjectivist was in the catalog, a half-brother to Sir Ron Priestley that we had previously coached. He didn’t win for us, but we did. already thought a lot about him.
“I had great faith in the family.”
Group one winner Princess Zoe of Tony Mullins shipyard, Donnacha O’Brien’s Emperor of the Sun and Joseph O’Brien’s pair of Melbourne Cup heroes Twilight Payment and Master Of Reality complete a Irish challenge with great potential.
An additional international element is added – with Andreas Suborics fielding German Group 2 winner Rip Van Lips, for which James Doyle is booked to ride.
Alan King’s Long Distance Cup hero Trueshan, the Spanish Mission and Ranch Hand duo formed by Andrew Balding and 92-ranked Ben Lilly from David Brown’s yard round out the potential 15 roster.