Charles Cyzer is normally to be found rubbing his hands for two reasons at this juncture: to keep warm, and as a gesture of anticipation before the bountiful days when his elite fireworks and Christmas crackers are destroyed in households throughout the nation.
Yesterday, under a strangely undisturbed blue sky, his palms went together for a different reason. In his other role as a racehorse trainer, Cyzer celebrated the first Group winner of his career when Book At Bedtime won the fillies' Leger, the Park Hill Stakes. Next could be the St Leger itself.
Book At Bedtime, whose name came from the mound of appellations that Cyzer and his brother Richard have pre-compiled for their horses, is certainly no picture to look at. Not unless Picasso has done the portrait. "She was a Sheikh Mohammed chuck-out as a yearling," the trainer reported. "She's got hopeless hind joints, but I've always been taught that you shouldn't look at the back, but check out the front end.
"If you stand at the Newmarket Sales all day every day like I do then one or two are bound to come your way. No-one liked the look of her at Tattersalls - they could see her more at Cheltenham than Doncaster and Epsom - and I was able to pick her up for a small price [4,200gns, and even then he refused an immediate profit of 500gns from an Italian buyer]. Perhaps Sheikh Mohammed might be interested in buying her back now."
Cyzer will not be broken if the Maktoums decline. He reposes in some comfort near Horsham in West Sussex, indulging in a sport he first entered as an owner. Wind And Wuthering carried the brothers' black and yellow livery to victory in the 1991 Dewhurst Stakes and were second to Zino in the following year's 2,000 Guineas. By 1989, Cyzer decided that if he was going to pay someone to train his horses it might as well be himself.
Until yesterday's events the biggest contest he had won as a trainer was the 1993 Listed Pretty Polly Stakes with Magical Retreat, and that statistic looked safe as Book At Bedtime started to labour at the top of the Doncaster straight. The Sheikh Mohammed representation of Anno Luce and Crown Of Light were pulling away at the front, but the suspicion that they were going too fast was confirmed as the pair faded back into the dust. Book At Bedtime, her lungs billowing with a second wind, took it up over two furlongs out and from that point there was to be no denial.
The winning jockey was Michael Roberts who, from the zenith of 1992 when he rode 206 winners to be champion jockey, has been in freefall to the 33 successes of the last campaign. Now, at last, the parachute has opened, with the South African having compiled notable recent victories on Double Trigger in the Goodwood Cup and Maylane in Friday's September Stakes. "Leger now" was his abbreviated thought as he swung out of the saddle yesterday. Book At Bedtime will run on Saturday as long as she shows no adverse reaction and is as low as 25-1 (from 66-1) to win again.
Bollin Joanne, who created a new course record in a searing Scarbrough Stakes, will run next at either Newbury next week or in the Diadem Stakes at Ascot's Festival of British Racing. Her race was over even quicker for Terry Lucas after Blessingindisguise put his head down in the stalls as if conducting a personal going inspection. The Australian jockey shot over the gelding's head in the direction of his homeland.
Bollin Joanne's success enabled her rider, Kieren Fallon, to edge a further winner ahead of Frankie Dettori in the jockeys' championship, a dual that will indeed run until the days are short and wet.
ST LEGER (Doncaster, Saturday): Coral: 5-2 Silver Patriarch, 3-1 Stowaway, 100-30 Vertical Speed, 9-1 Besiege, 12-1 Panama City & Windsor Castle, 14-1 The Fly; Ladbrokes: 5-2 Stowaway, 11-4 Silver Patriarch, 3-1 Vertical Speed, 8-1 Besiege, 12-1 Windsor Castle; William Hill: 5-2 Silver Patriarch, 11-4 Vertical Speed, 100-30 Stowaway, 9-1 Besiege, 12-1 Panama City & Windsor Castle, 16-1 The Fly.