Kew Gardens will try to earn himself a return to the top level with a comeback victory in the Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes at Chester.
Aidan O’Brien’s charge enjoyed a tremendous three-year-old campaign last season that included Royal Ascot success in the Queen’s Vase and Classic glory in the St Leger at Doncaster.
He rounded off 2018 by finishing seventh in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and has significantly less on his plate as he makes his seasonal reappearance in Thursday’s extended one-mile-five-furlong Group Three.
O’Brien said: “If he’s OK going around there (Chester), he could go for the Coronation Cup.
“He disappointed there (Epsom) in the Derby last year, but maybe it was because we didn’t give him a chance and rode him too far forward.”
Kew Gardens will be a hot favourite to give weight and a beating to five rivals on the Roodee – including his stablemate Cypress Creek.
Ian Williams has declared last year’s Chester Cup hero Magic Circle, but has yet to decide whether to run in this event or let him defend his crown in Friday’s feature event.
The seven-year-old is set to make his first appearance since disappointing when well fancied for the Melbourne Cup last November.
Williams said: “Obviously we’ll consider running him in the Ormonde, but we’ll see how the ground is with the rain they’ve had today.
“I didn’t want to end up in a situation where it was decent ground in the Ormonde and on the slow side in the Chester Cup, so we’ve kept our options open.
“I’ll probably make the decision last thing this evening or first thing tomorrow.
“He’s in good form. He worked well with Shabeeb at Haydock last weekend. I’m looking forward to getting him started for the year.
“Both races are a tough shout. One is a little on the short side and he’s carrying a lot of weight in the Chester Cup.”
The Andrew Balding-trained Morando also has winning form at the track and rounded off last season with what was arguably a career-best performance when dead-heating with Young Rascal in a Group Three at Newbury.
“Morando is in good form and we’re looking forward to getting him going,” said Balding.
“He’s got a (3lb) penalty to carry, but we’ve got to go where the ground is right and this looked a good place to start.
“I hope he’ll run well.”
Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Dalgarno and the Matthew Smith-trained Warnaq will both be big outsiders.