The fascination, of course, is that though Loder's hand is outstretched, Cecil will not let go without a struggle. For all the impression created by Blue Duster as she accelerated away from My Branch and Najiya, she is still only second-favourite at 6-1 (with Ladbrokes) for the 1996 Guineas. Heading the market is Bosra Sham, at a solid 4-1 for the Classic. Her success in last Sunday's Fillies' Mile at Ascot was among the few encouraging moments this year for one H R A Cecil, of Warren Place, Newmarket. Ladbrokes see so few alternatives that they bet 20-1 bar the two, and a Classic confrontation next spring between the lord of the manor and his heir apparent is now a serious possibility.
Cecil won yesterday's closing maiden race with the newcomer Helicon, but the day belonged to Loder, who also sent out Rio Duvida to take the Houghton Sales Stakes and with it the pounds 100,000 bonus to the first graduate of last year's Houghton sale to finish. In all, his runners earned almost pounds 200,000 in the space of 35 minutes.
Rio Duvida is now quoted at 25-1 for next year's 2,000 Guineas and at 33-1 for the Derby, though the principal significance of his success was to reinforce the Classic credentials of Alhaarth, who beat him in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. His trainer, certainly, does not seem wholly convinced of his ability to take on the best.
"The Houghton is a nice sale to buy in because you've got a chance to win this race," Loder said. "It's got more money than most Group Ones and you don't necessarily need a genuine Group One horse to win it." The Dewhurst Stakes, for which Rio Duvida remains among the entries, would test the depth of his talent to the full, but it is more probable that we will not see him again until next year.
Blue Duster is a much better bet to give Loder a first Classic, with the only significant doubt about her chance being whether she has the stamina to support her undoubted speed. Her trainer's guess is as good as anyone's, but he does have the memory of a very similar filly to comfort him.
"We had all this with Marling when I was working for Geoff Wragg," Loder said. "The two of them are very similar in physique, temperament and style of racing, and when they're that relaxed and they've got that amount of class, you've got to be confident that they'll stay a mile." Marling was a short-head second in the Guineas after finding trouble in running, and later won the Sussex Stakes.
Michael Kinane, who was holding Blue Duster's reins, could shed no further light on just how far her lungs and legs will take her, and a final answer may arrive only on Guineas day. Nor was there much to be gleaned from comparisons between Blue Duster and Bosra Sham, whom Kinane has also partnered to success. "This one isn't as good looking as Bosra Sham," the Irishman said, "but she's got more speed. If she stays, I'd be happy to ride her in the Guineas."
If she stays, so would we all.
NAP: Lear Jet
NB: Trojan Risk