Connections of last season's sensational Champion Stakes winner Cracksman are praying for rain at York over the next couple of weeks, with owner Anthony Oppenheimer warning the son of Frankel will not run in the Juddmonte International unless there is cut in the ground.
Cracksman was a late withdrawal from last month's King George due to quick ground and with the weather looking largely bright and sunny in the build-up to the opening day of the Ebor meeting, which starts on Wednesday week, it seems unlikely he will be making the trip to the Knavesmire.
The John Gosden-trained four-year-old is 8-1 to capture the £1 million prize, with his Arc-winning stablemate Enable, who could wait for the September Stakes at Kempton to make her belated return from injury, between 5-1 and 8-1 for York.
"If it rains at York and the ground is good to soft, he’ll run at York," said Oppenheimer. "If it’s like it has been recently, he won’t."
While the weather may scupper his York chances, hopes are high Cracksman will bounce back to his brilliant best in the autumn with an audacious tilt at the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe before defending his Qipco Champion Stakes on the cards.
"He’s got a very good possibility of running [in the Champion Stakes] at Ascot," Oppenheimer said. "He’s had a long rest and as long as it’s good ground or good to soft, he’ll run. He’s going to run in the Arc, too, but he can do both.
"Cracksman was absolutely in his element last year and it was a marvellous day. "I’ve seen him at the stable this week, he looks fantastic, and we’re just waiting for the rain.
Saxon Warrior, winner of the 2,000 Guineas and runner-up in the Coral-Eclipse this season, is also among 49 entries for the £1.3m Champion Stakes – Europe's richest 1m2f race – and trainer Aidan O'Brien said: "At the moment, we're looking at the Juddmonte International at York for him next and then we'll have a better idea of which route to take.
"He has entries in both the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the Qipco Champion Stakes and could go for either race."
Both those races are under consideration for Addeybb, who won the 32Red Lincoln Handicap and Bet365 Mile in the spring, but has not run since he was a beaten favourite for the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in the spring.
"What I learned from Newbury is that I wouldn’t run him on good to firm ground again," said trainer William Haggas. "But he has had some time off since and is currently doing very well, enjoying some sunshine before we bring him back.
"I would think he would have a run somewhere before Ascot, but I haven’t thought too much about where.
"I’ve put him in the Qipco Champion Stakes as well because I have always thought it would be interesting to try him at a mile and quarter and we might just do that on Qipco British Champions Day but we have got plenty of time to think about that decision."
Cracksman, picture Liesl King