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Subjectivist: a brilliant winner of the Ascot Gold Cup last June
By Andrew Dietz
Subjectivist has been denied the chance to defend his Ascot Gold Cup crown after being ruled out for the whole of 2022, but there are hopes the leading stayer can return next year.
The high-class five-year-old has not run since winning the royal meeting showpiece in scintillating fashion last June, after which it emerged he sustained a career-threatening injury in the race.
The Charlie and Mark Johnston team had been looking to bring Subjectivist back into full work with a view to Royal Ascot in the summer, but those plans have been scrapped.
“We felt that to be ready in time for Ascot he’d have to go back into work now and, as it’s really only eight months since the injury was sustained, we don’t feel it’s quite long enough,” said Charlie Johnston.
“We’ve taken the difficult decision to write this year off. He’s very well in himself, but we want to give the injury the best chance of withstanding training when he comes back into full work. The longer he has off the better chance we stand, so we’ve had to weigh that up.
“It’s very tough to leave your best horse on the sidelines for the season and we just hope we can make up for lost time in 2023.”
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Charlie Johnston: “It’s really only eight months since the injury was sustained – we don’t feel it’s quite long enough”
Subjectivist showcased his star potential as a stayer by winning the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp at the end of his Classic campaign in 2020.
He won the Dubai Gold Cup on his first start of last year before powering home by five lengths in the Gold Cup when Stradivarius was only fourth in his bid for a record-equaling fourth straight success in the race.
With owner Dr Jim Walker rejecting offers on the table for Subjectivist to take up a role at stud this year, long-term plans are being made for a return to the track in 2023.
“We’ll probably aim towards Saudi Arabia this time next year and lead into Dubai and Ascot again,” said Johnston. “He’s been swimming and on the water walker for six months now and he’ll continue his current regime for the next couple of months before being turned out for the summer.”
Nayef Road, who won the Listed Rose Bowl Stakes on his final start of 2021, is set to complete his preparations for a trip to the Middle East in the 2m Unibet Conditions Stakes at Kempton on Saturday.
“He might struggle to fill Subjectivist’s shoes but he’ll have to sub him in the short term,” added Johnston. “He’s going to have a pipe-opener at Kempton and go for the valuable stayers’ race on the Saudi Cup card [February 26] and then Dubai.
“He seems in good form, and although he has a little bit to work on with Saudi in mind, we’d be hopeful of a good run on Saturday.”
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