Doncaster, England // Godolphin's Melbourne Cup plans will crystallise over the next few days as Colour Vision, Lost In The Moment and Willing Foe take centre stage across Europe.
Colour Vision once again duels with Saddler's Rock in today's Group 2 Doncaster Cup, while Willing Foe was supplemented yesterday for the Group 3 Prix Gladiateur at Longchamp in France on Sunday.
Lost In The Moment will also line up in Paris for the 3,100-metre contest, in which Kasbah Bliss, who was campaigned in Dubai during the World Cup Carnival, also runs.
Colour Vision has a 4lb penalty for his defeat of Saddler's Rock in the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup in June. It is a burden he failed to successfully carry when he was only third to his four-year-old rival in the Group 2 Goodwood Cup last month.
As such, Simon Crisford was hardly bullish about the chances of his gallant grey, who skipped the Yorkshire Cup three weeks ago in which Saddler's Rock failed to handle the good to soft going. The Irish raider was only ninth of 11 in the Group 2 event won by another of today's opponents, Times Up.
"You've got to say that Colour Vision requires a career-best performance and will need to improve as otherwise mathematically he can't win," Godolphin's racing manager said. "He's had 19 races so far and will he improve in his 20th? I don't think horses improve at this stage of their careers and something will have to run below form for him to win."
If Colour Vision were to win today his chances of running in Australia would be slim. The weights for the Melbourne Cup, run on November 6, will be revealed on Tuesday and Colour Vision would hardly be well handicapped having advertised his ability extensively this season.
"I suppose that is the price you pay for winning the Ascot Gold Cup," Crisford said. "If the placings had been reversed at Royal Ascot he probably would be carrying two kilos less in Melbourne than if he had not beaten Saddler's Rock."
In contrast, Willing Foe struck in the Ebor Handicap, Europe's most valuable handicap, on just his ninth start three weeks ago.
The Ebor is a key race that is taken into consideration by the Australian handicappers and a victory in France would put the American-bred on a ratings level that would all but seal his participation in the race that is said to "stop a nation".
All three Godolphin horses were part of the team that were vaccinated by Godolphin at the beginning of the year, a procedure the Dubai-based operation carry out every season in an effort to have enough horses at their disposal to challenge for the 3,200m event.
Unlike the 16 European horses that went into quarantine this week, Godolphin's horses will enter quarantine in two weeks among the next wave of European horses.
Pre-export quarantine lasts for two weeks and then horses are required to endure another two weeks in Australia's International Horse Centre at Werribee. It means therefore that whichever horses are chosen to carry the royal blue silks in Australia none of them will have a prep race before the Melbourne Cup.