Dubai or Ascot outing still on cards for Subjectivist

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The six-year-old was making his first competitive appearance in 618 days in Saturday's Longines Red Sea Turf Handicap, having been sidelined by injury since his brilliant victory in the 2021 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. Hopes were high that he could make a fairytale return to the winner's enclosure in Riyadh - but after managing to get to the front from his wide draw, his early exertions took their toll and he faded to finish 12th of 13 runners. While disappointed with the result, Johnston has not given up on the prospect of Subjectivist once again establishing himself as a major Gold Cup contender. "Of course I was hoping he would run better than he did," said the Middleham handler. "But given the way race panned out, he was obviously very, very fresh after a long time off and that was more accentuated by the fact that Joe (Fanning) had to light him up a bit to get him over from that draw. Once he'd lit the fuse, there was no going back. "He was very, very keen for the first circuit. It was always going to be a big ask after that long a lay-off, but once he'd been as keen as he was, it was no huge surprise to see him get quite tired in the closing stages. "Obviously we hoped and dreamed he could come back and win - we wouldn't have gone there if we didn't think that. "But at the same time for the horse to show that he's still got plenty of enthusiasm for the game and I don't think he looked out of place in that field, giving a stone to some of the best stayers in the world, at least the dream is still alive that he could still be competitive at the highest level in staying races this year. "We were a little bit disappointed on the night, but we're far from down and out, that's for sure." Future plans for Subjectivist are slightly complicated by the fact his return flight from Riyadh has been delayed. A tilt at the Dubai Gold Cup (March 25), which he also won two years ago, is not being ruled out but appears dependent on how quickly he recovers from his recent trip across the globe. Johnston added: "They were originally due to fly back tomorrow (Wednesday) but that has now been delayed until Friday, so he won't be home until then. "At the moment he seems fine. We'll get a better handle on things once he's back home, but the initial signs are good, so that's promising at least. "This delay makes things worse in that there's only four weeks between Saudi and Dubai and now, given the time it's taking to get him home and the time he'd need to leave before the race at Meydan, he'd only be back here for two weeks, so that is obviously going to have to be factored in. "If he doesn't go to Dubai, something like the Sagaro would seem the obvious next port of call for him, but we'll wait and see the horse when he gets home and speak to Dr Jim (Walker, owner) and make a plan from there."

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