Henry Candy is optimistic Limato can defy his advancing years by registering back-to-back wins in the Betway Criterion Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
The evergreen eight-year-old will begin his seventh season in training by attempting to become just the second horse to claim successive victories in the Group Three prize, which has been transferred to the Rowley Mile, having landed last year’s renewal on the July Course.
Although he registered just one win last term, Limato, who will be partnered for the first time by Adam Kirby, signed off the campaign with a respectable effort in defeat on the Rowley Mile when finding only Mustashry too strong in his bid for a third consecutive victory in the Group Two Challenge Stakes.
Candy said: “He is totally unaware he is that bit older and he still behaves like a lovable idiot.
“It will be interesting to see how he copes as an eight-year-old – it must take the edge off him a bit as he can’t be the same as when he was three or four.
“He still seems full of enthusiasm and goes OK at home. He likes the track at the Rowley Mile and seven furlongs is his game now. Hopefully they won’t get much rain up there, as if they do he won’t run.
“So many people have been asking about Limato and when we are likely to see him as you don’t get many eight-year-olds racing at his level. I hope he can do himself justice and not let people down.”
Tip Two Win will make his first start back at the the track since finishing second in the 2000 Guineas two years ago, but trainer Roger Teal expects the son of Dark Angel to be in need of his first run in almost 12 months.
Teal said: “He seems to be going nicely at home, but obviously he is going to come on for the run having been off the track for a while. He is as fit as we can get him and I think seven furlongs is probably his trip.
“Although he doesn’t want it soft, any rain would help ease the sting out of the ground as Newmarket can get pretty quick. If he produces his best form, he would be up there, but he will benefit for the run.
“We stopped early last season as we had niggly little problems, but the last three or four months in training have been good, so hopefully he can comeback to what he was.”
The Mark Johnston team have their fingers crossed Newmarket stays mainly dry to boost the prospects of Vale Of Kent.
The five-year-old has strong form over the course and distance, having won the Bunbury Cup last July under Frankie Dettori, who is in the saddle again.
“I think he will run very well as long as they don’t get any rain. Frankie gets a great tune out of the horse,” said Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father.
“He ran a good race in the Hunt Cup. He did a lot of the donkey work, set a very strong pace that played out well for Dark Vision. I thought he put in a great effort from his draw to lead a long way.
“He’s in very good form with himself compared to some if his rivals, who are either been out of form or we haven’t seen for some time. I’m hopeful of a big run as long Newmarket dodges the showers.”
The Johnston-trained Thunderous will attempt to extend his unbeaten record to four by claiming the second Listed victory of his career on his first attempt over a mile and a quarter in the Betway Fairway Stakes.
Harry Herbert, racing manager to owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: “Thunderous is a lovely horse and did nothing wrong last year. We hoped to be running in the big autumn races, but he just sustained a little injury after his Listed win at Newbury.
“I think Mark and Charlie Johnston expect him to improve for the run as he might be a bit ring rusty. He has done very well physically from two to three and he looks a very mature, masculine, powerful horse.
“In his races last year it looked like he would get swallowed up, but then he has gone on to win impressively. It looked like he was crying out to go further and that is the impression we got, but we won’t know for sure until we have tried it.”
Thunderous could head to the Dante Stakes at York next month, should all go well.
“We’re very much looking forward to getting him back out. He’s had a tough time of things since we last saw him out on a racecourse with two separate injuries,” said Charlie Johnston.
“He’s certainly starting off a little later than intended. I think he will come on quite significantly for this race. We’ve only really got some fast work into him in the last fortnight or so.
“The rescheduled Dante (at York) a few weeks down the line was quite an exciting prospect for the owners when it got its new slot. We thought he would benefit from a race beforehand and this race looked the ideal opportunity.”