Father and son training duo Mark and Charlie Johnston have ruled out the possibility of supplementing Thunderous for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot after he finished a close-up fourth to Quickthorn in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown on Thursday evening.
Thunderous had finished just a length behind Stradivarius in the Yorkshire Cup last month, but fitted with a visor for the first time for his two-mile debut, the Highclere Thoroughbred Racing-owned five-year-old was beaten two and three-quarter length by the gutsy winner.
The Hughie Morrison-trained Quickthorn claimed Group Three honours under an enterprising ride from Tom Marquand and even though Thunderous made some inroads into his lead, Franny Norton quickly accepted the situation and eased the throttle aboard the Night Of Thunder gelding.
Though connections could supplement for the two-and-a-half-mile Gold Cup on June 16 at a cost of £35,000, the 2020 Dante winner will not line up for a rematch with Stradivarius and current favourite Trueshan.
Mark Johnston said: “He (Norton) said he was out of his comfort zone slightly.
“It was a beautifully-executed plan by the winner I would say, to make sure it was a good test of stamina. We were all put to the sword quite early.
“I was just talking to Charlie and he said he didn’t think he was the same horse he was at York and could not imagine that they were going the pace Thunderous set at York, so he said maybe the stiffer track wasn’t right. That may be something.
“Probably, we’ll come back to a mile and six (furlongs) after that, and we will give him a little break as he has had four very quick runs, even though Franny looked after him once his chance had gone.”