Last year's Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter is ready for his rematch against Gold Cup prevailer Stradivarius in the Qatar Goodwood Cup on July 30.
His trainer Charlie Appleby believes the drop back in trip to two miles - which the four-year-old impressively won over in the Dubai Gold Cup in Meydan five months on from his memorable success at Flemington, should give him a better chance of ending John Gosden's star five-year-old's domination in the staying division.
Appleby is all too aware that the son of Sea The Stars has proved himself to be extremely versatile in the last twenty-four months over varying trips, winning Goodwood's feature staying contest for the past couple of years.
Cross Counter will skip the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot as expected, and head straight for the Sussex Downs at the end of the month.
The son of Teofilo will seek to better his fourth-placed finish in the Gold Cup from Royal Ascot, as he attempts to stop Stradivarius from becoming just the second horse ever to win the Goodwood Cup three times [after Double Trigger].
(Credit: AtTheRaces) Appleby said: “Cross Counter has come out of the Ascot Gold Cup well, and the plan is not to run in the King George but head straight to the Goodwood Cup.
“We wanted to drop him in on his first time over the two-and-a-half miles. They went strong enough early on, but he was not in the best position when they got racing.
“He still showed plenty of class, the way he came into the race, and the drop back to two miles on a track he holds the mile-and-a-half course record on is positive.
“We are expecting an exciting race and we are pleased to be part of it – and if he turns up in top form he will be a major player.”
Meanwhile, Cross Counter's young stablemate Space Blues could head back to Deauville in France once more, after his good run on Sunday meant he was only beaten by champion juvenile Too Darn Hot.
The son of Dubawi was making his first appearance at Group One level in the Prix Jean Prat, and Appleby is eyeing up the Prix Maurice de Gheest as a future target, before a potential crack at the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp, where a second clash with John Gosden's three-year-old could be on the cards.
He said: “Over the last few years, he would have been good enough to win a Prix Jean Prat, but Too Darn Hot turned up and he was always going to be hard to beat – but our fellow lost nothing in defeat.
“He is a tough little horse, and we might look at the Maurice de Gheest with him if he is showing the right signs because he has had a busy early part of the season.
“If we decide not to go to the Maurice de Gheest we will work back from the Foret.
“We thought he might be a mile-and-a-quarter horse at the start of the season, and we started him over that trip.
“Needless to say, he is a typical Dubawi in that has got stronger and quicker now we have found his trip," he said.