Charlie Johnston was brimming with pride after seeing Subjectivist run an admirable race in defeat in his bid for a second Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
The six-year-old was a spectacular winner when breaking Stradivarius’ stranglehold on the two-and-a-half-mile showpiece in 2021, but has suffered his fair share of injury woes since and at one stage looked more likely to retire than make it back to Berkshire.
He was well beaten on his return from the best part of two years off the track in Saudi Arabia in February, but looked more like his old self when third in the Dubai Gold Cup in March, giving connections hope that he could complete a fairytale comeback and regain his Gold Cup crown.
After going off a well backed 9-2 shot in the hands of his regular pilot Joe Fanning, Subjectivist set the fractions on the front end and refused to give in once passed by the eventual winner Courage Mon Ami and the gallant runner-up Coltrane late in the day.
In the end he was beaten four and a half lengths into third, but Johnston was nevertheless delighted to see his stable star prove he can still mix it at the highest level.
He said: “He’s run a great race. I was sort of expecting he would win, or we would be out with the washing!
“It’s been a long road and just being here is pretty special. Let’s hope he’s OK and we can go again.
“He has defied everything to be here. So we are delighted, but would always rather be there [on the winner’s podium].”
Fanning added: “He ran a great race, he was just a little bit keen earlier than I wanted to be, but he kept quick and kept finding and he’s ran blinder.
“Given the issues he’s had to come back from it was a good run.”
Meanwhile, Oisin Murphy had no complaints after 11-4 favourite Coltrane lost little in defeat when claiming the silver medal.
He said: “He relaxed great and travelled round super, and I felt I could go and win the race.
“Frankie’s come with me and it was a good battle, and Frankie came out on top.”