The Diamond Jubilee Stakes is the Group 1 focus of the last day of Royal Ascot and this 1200m dash has a rich cosmopolitan history.
Cape Of Good Hope won it for Hong Kong back in 2005 whilst the great Australian racemare Black Caviar controversially held on by a whisker in 2012. And two years ago US speedster Undrafted showed blinding pace to bag the money and the prestige.
Last year, however, the prize stayed at home thanks to Twilight Son, trained by Henry Candy, an Englishman of the old school as his fans often say. This much respected man - who has handled a variety of champions since granted a licence way back in 1973 - has a strong chance of repeating that feat on Saturday as he also trains Limato. A brilliant and versatile gelding, Limato is the winner of eight of his 15 career starts and more importantly was the outstanding British sprinter of 2016.
His supporters are confident that two wretched runs will fade from the memory on Saturday. The first flop came in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita last November (6th) and the second followed in March’s Al Quoz Sprint (10th) at Meydan. Reasons proffered were of a long hard campaign regarding Santa Anita and rain-soaked ground at Meydan. Who knows, perhaps it was also because far flung travel simply doesn’t agree with Limato.
From his stables based in peaceful Oxfordshire countryside, Candy says: “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.”
The trainer adds of this dual G1 winner: “He’s an amazing horse to watch at his best and we’re hoping that he quickens up in Limato style on Saturday.”
Ryan Moore, who not surprisingly is already booting home winners at Royal Ascot this week, takes over on the five-year-old bay having previously ridden him into second in the G1 Prix de la Foret (1400m) at Longchamp back in 2015.
Moore is likely to deliver Limato late and fast, tactics which arguably are even more important for his serious rival The Tin Man. He is the mount of Tom Queally, who remains most famous for riding the mighty Frankel throughout his unbeaten 14-race career.
Newmarket’s James Fanshawe trains The Tin Man, whose entire 12-race, six-win career has been over 1200m, and memorably includes a G1 winning strike last October in the British Champions Sprint Stakes over Saturday’s course and distance.
“I always tell Tom to be brave on this horse. It’s the only way to ride him,” says Fanshawe.
Bravery is the key to Dartmouth, who keeps on delivering and appears to have a good chance of winning the earlier Hardwicke Stakes (2392m) for a second consecutive year.
Dartmouth is owned by Her Majesty The Queen and trained by Sir Michael Stoute who amazingly has won this G2 prize for four-year-olds and upwards in seven of the last 11 years.
The Queen is expected to be in attendance and her racing adviser John Warren says: “It meant a great deal to Her Majesty when Dartmouth won this last year. Sir Michael is a master with these horses and Dartmouth is exceptionally brave, so tough and genuine.”
That afternoon, the then four-year-old Dartmouth appeared to outbattle Highland Reel. Quite some achievement considering that the brilliant Highland Reel gained his sixth international G1 victory when winning the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes in tenacious style at Royal Ascot on Wednesday.