Coltrane and Eldar Eldarov are among 14 runners declared for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot on Thursday.
Winner of the Ascot Stakes 12 months ago, the Andrew Balding-trained Coltrane has since developed into a top-class stayer.
The six-year-old inflicted a shock defeat on Trueshan in last season’s Doncaster Cup before the tables were turned on Champions Day at Ascot, but Coltrane reasserted his authority on his reappearance in Ascot’s Sagaro Stakes last month and has been at the head of the Gold Cup betting ever since.
He will renew rivalry with with Adam Nicol’s Sagaro runner-up Wise Eagle and the fourth-placed Trueshan, whose trainer Alan King will have been pleased to see the rain arrive in Berkshire.
Like Coltrane, Roger Varian’s Eldar Eldarov is a previous Royal Ascot winner, having last season come out on top in a pulsating renewal of the Queen’s Vase.
The Dubawi colt went on to claim Classic glory in the St Leger and made a most encouraging start to his four-year-old campaign when runner-up in the Yorkshire Cup.
Charlie Johnston’s Subjectivist has suffered his fair share of problems since a brilliant victory in the 2021 Gold Cup, but returns in a bid to regain his crown.
Aidan O’Brien, who has won the race on a record eight occasions, this year saddles both Emily Dickinson and Broome, while Frankie Dettori partners John and Thady Gosden’s unbeaten four-year-old Courage Mon Ami in what will be his final Gold Cup before retirement.
Yibir (Charlie Appleby) and Echoes In Rain (Willie Mullins) also feature in what appears a wide-open renewal of the two-and-a-half-mile showpiece.
Day three of the Royal meeting gets underway with the Group Two Norfolk Stakes, for which Karl Burke’s dual winner Elite Status is a hot favourite to see off 15 other speedy juveniles.
His opponents include American Rascal, a son of the trainer’s dual Royal Ascot heroine Lady Aurelia, and his compatriot No Nay Mets, who will be ridden by Dettori.
Al Asifah is odds-on for a 19-runner Ribblesdale Stakes after being supplemented off the back of a scintillating Listed success at Goodwood. Infinite Cosmos (Sir Michael Stoute) and Bluestocking (Ralph Beckett) look her two biggest threats.