STRADIVARIUS will face just four rivals as he attempts to win the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York for the second successive year.
If he wins the Group 2 again on Friday, John Gosden’s star stayer will land the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million for a second time.
Having already won the Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup at Ascot, and the Goodwood Cup, he is aiming to replicate his exploits of 12 months ago.
His chief rival once again is Mark Johnston’s Dee Ex Bee, who has been Stradivarius’ nearest pursuer at Ascot and Goodwood – and he closed the gap to within a neck at the latter venue.
Dermot Weld’s Falcon Eight is a new rival for him to consider. The four-year-old was a narrow winner at Sandown last time out.
Ian Williams’ Magic Circle, winner of the Chester Cup last season, is aiming to bounce back to form – with Aidan O’Brien represented by Il Paradiso.
A field of 14 will go to post for the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes.
The form pick is Richard Hannon’s Threat, who finished second in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood.
Karl Burke is doubly represented with Dubai Station, the mount of Frankie Dettori, and Lord Of The Lodge – who will be ridden by Ben Curtis.
Kevin Ryan has a strong numerical presence – with Abstemious (Jamie Spencer), Byline (Kevin Stott) and Repartee (Andrea Atzeni) all lining up.
Other interesting contenders include Declan Carroll’s Spartan Fighter, who beat Norfolk and Prix Robert Papin winner A’Ali at Ripon earlier in the season, and Marco Botti’s Malotru – winner of an Italian Group 3.
O’Brien’s sole runner is Pistoletto, who lost his unbeaten record in the Anglesey Stakes last time out.