By Racinguk.com staff
Dual Group One winner Limato belatedly opened his account for the campaign in the Godolphin Stud And Stable Staff Awards Challenge Stakes at Newmarket.
Henry Candy's stable star won the July Cup and the Prix de la Foret in 2016 and although he had previously failed to add to his tally of eight career wins this term, he had been placed in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot and when defending his July Cup crown before finishing a close-up fourth in the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood.
With ground conditions in his favour, the five-year-old was the 6-4 favourite to show his true colours on the Rowley Mile and was given a nice lead into the race by Massaat towards the stands rail.
Limato took over approaching the final furlong under Harry Bentley and readily kicked clear of his rivals for an impressive three-and-a-half-length victory.
Massaat (11-2) was a clear second, with the admirable veteran Gordon Lord Byron third at 66-1.
Bentley said: "He felt brilliant. I was very happy with him the whole way and how I was travelling into the race.Limato is finished for the season but could renew rivalry with Massaat in the Lockinge next season (FocusInRacing)
"My job was made pretty easy. It was just a matter of pushing the button and he kicked on really well. All the conditions suited him.
"I know Mr Candy has always thought a mile would be within his range. The way he stayed on there, it leads you to believe that a mile is definitely possibly in the future.
"There's definitely more exciting days to come with this horse. He's made a huge impact on my career."
Winning owner Paul Jacobs said: "It has been a very frustrating season. We've had a series of issues, including the ground - there were just various things that were going wrong.
"We felt this was really the last chance for him this season in this country."
Jacobs controversially decided to replace Bentley as Limato's regular rider earlier in the year following a disappointing run in Dubai.
Ryan Moore was on board at Royal Ascot before Bentley got back on board in the July Cup and at Goodwood.
Jacobs added: "Looking back, I felt the Dubai experience was a disaster on all scores. We kicked ourselves for taking the horse there and he never seemed himself after he came back. He had muscle enzyme problems and he was really down and we wondered whether we would get him back at all for this season.
"Rightly or wrongly, probably wrongly, I felt if we could change as much as possible to get it out of his mind and to get a new routine in place, we'd try.
"It didn't work and all I can say is Harry behaved like a total gentleman and when I called him and asked him whether he'd come back, he agreed and here we are."
Candy was thrilled to see his charge back in the winner's circle.
"It's amazing he ran so well at Ascot and then in the July Cup, as his winter activities took a lot out of him," said the trainer.
"I guess Goodwood was a bit too soon and it was a bit too soft. It was good to see him best to his old self.
"He won't race again this year. We will just keep him ticking over the whole time. He will have a proper holiday now and go out in the paddock and torment people."
Asked whether he was looking forward to stepping Limato back up to a mile next season, Candy added: "Very much so. I think that's his game now that he has changed shape.
"He is now quite a big, rangy horse and he is now crying out for a mile. He settles well in his races and he was certainly not stopping there.
"Obviously Mr Jacobs has plans and I would be very satisfied to go to America next year as long as he goes over the mile (at the Breeders' Cup). It is at the right time of the year and I've nothing against it all. Our horses seem best between May and October.
"It didn't work for him in America last year, but he had a very busy year last year and it was asking an awful lot to do the Breeders' Cup and Dubai.
"The first time he ran in the Lockinge he was not quite right and the ground was appalling. I would love to run in the Lockinge if he is good form and the ground is right. It would be a lovely race for him."
Owen Burrows said of Massaat: "He ran a blinder. Jim (Crowley) just said on that good ground he definitely feels a miler.
"Trying to give a proper Group One horse 3lb he lost little in defeat again and I'm chuffed to bits with him. I'm looking forward to next year .
"We will see what the ground is like but we could look at the Lockinge. We will see, it's a long way away."