Limato bids to become the first horse to win the Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards Challenge Stakes for a third time when he lines up for the Group Two contest at Newmarket on Friday.
Owner Paul Jacobs is hoping there is not much more rain to give his classy performer the chance of adding to his victories in the seven-furlong feature from the past two years.
Since Limato last ran at Goodwood in August, the weather has scuppered plans for the Henry Candy-trained gelding with three races being missed.
“The fact is this is his last opportunity for the year. There is no other seven-furlong race and we’ve missed the last three because of the ground, but now we’re going to give it a go as long as they don’t get too much more rain,” said Jacobs.
“I’d have thought if it remains no worse than good to soft we’ll take our chance. If it gets softer than that we would have to rethink.
“Since he ran at Goodwood at the end of August, we’ve missed the Hungerford, then the Park and the Foret. Over seven furlongs this is the last one really.
“We certainly hope to take our chance, that’s the intention.”
He added: “He seems fine in himself. We think he deserves a shot at he race because he’s won it the last two years and it would be lovely to give him an outing, having won it twice, and just see what transpires.”
Limato faces no easy task despite the small field, as his four rivals include Lockinge winner Mustashry and Group Two York scorer Shine So Bright.
Jessica Harrington is keen on the chances of Valeria Messalina and Nope in the Godolphin Lifetime Care Oh So Sharp Stakes.
Valeria Messalina was a narrow winner on her only start, while Nope was far from disgraced in the Group Three Weld Stakes on the latest of her four races.
“Valeria Messalina was very good the first day,” said Harrington.
“It’s a big step up in class for her, but there were no seven-furlong fillies’ races for her at home, so we decided we’d travel her across the water. I hope she’ll run well.
“Nope was unlucky at the Curragh the last day as she fly-jumped the start and lost about 10 lengths and was only beaten just over six lengths in the end.
“I think she’s a good filly and she has a good bit more experience than the other one, who is still pretty raw.”
Godolphin rely on the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Final Song, who has finished third in both the Queen Mary and Duchess of Cambridge Stakes behind Raffle Prize.
“We gave Final Song a long break after the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes, but she has been working well recently,” Bin Suroor told www.godolphin.com.
“She will be fine over seven furlongs and I am looking for another good run from her.”
Roger Varian lifted the prize 12 months ago with Mot Juste and has a leading fancy this year with Rockfel Stakes runner-up Stylistique.
Godolphin dominate the five-furlong Newmarket Academy Godolphin Beacon Project Cornwallis Stakes.
The Bin Suroor-trained Platinum Star, Charlie Appleby’s Lazuli and Ickworth from Willie McCreery’s stable in Ireland give Sheikh Mohammed’s operation a strong hand.
Bin Suroor said: “Platinum Star won nicely last time out at Ripon and came out of the race in good form. This is a step back up in class, but he shows plenty of speed in his races and should be fine over five furlongs.”
Lazuli steps in grade after winning both his starts at Newmarket and Doncaster.
“We have been pleased with Lazuli’s first two starts and feel that the drop back to five furlongs is going to suit, especially at a stiff track like Newmarket,” said Appleby.
Ickworth is already a Listed winner, in First Flier Stakes over five furlongs at the Curragh, and was third in similar company at Ayr last month.