English trainer Henry Candy is chasing back-to-back victories in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday and he’s convinced he’s got the right horse to do it with in Limato.
The Diamond Jubilee has long been a race with a strong international flavour with recent winners including Hong Kong’s Cape Of Good Hope (2005), undefeated Australian superstar Black Caviar (2012) and speedy American Undrafted (2015).
Ironically, the favourite this year is a local horse who failed to fire when he travelled overseas.
After winning the July Cup at Newmarket and the Prix de la Foret at Chantilly last year, both at Group One level, Limato struggled in his last two starts, beaten in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and the Al Quoz Sprint.
The stable believes he’d had enough at the end of a long season at Santa Anita before failing to produce his best in the wet in Dubai.
Candy, who won last year’s Diamond Jubilee with Twilight Son, hopes being back on home soil will make all the difference.
“Limato is happy again after Dubai and is enjoying the sunshine. I even think that he has recently developed a little more and he’s really quite a big horse now. He’s always been a bit lazy at home but we don’t take any notice of that,” Candy said.
“He’s an amazing horse to watch at his best and we’re hoping that he quickens up in Limato-style on Saturday.”
Champion jockey Ryan Moore takes the ride on the five-year-old, who has won eight of his 15 starts, and he has experience down the 1,200m straight at Royal Ascot, having run second to Muhaarar in the Group One Commonwealth Cup two years ago.
His biggest danger appears to be The Tin Man, who captured the Group One British Champions Sprint Stakes two starts ago.
Jockey Tom Queally, who used to ride Frankel, will be in the saddle and jumping from barrier three.
“I always tell Tom to be brave on this horse. It’s the only way to ride him,” trainer James Fanshawe said.
The other feature on the final day of the meeting is the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes (2,392m) and it is Her Majesty The Queen who is trying to defend the title with Dartmouth.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained stayer beat Highland Reel last year, form that looks terrific after the latter added the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes to a long list of international victories on Wednesday.
“It meant a great deal to Her Majesty when Dartmouth won this last year,” the Queen’s racing adviser John Warren said. “Sir Michael is a master with these horses and Dartmouth is exceptionally brave, so tough and genuine.”
The Jockey Club is simulcasting all six races from Royal Ascot on Saturday, with the opener getting underway at 9.30pm.