Bleached cornfields are ripe for harvesting across the Sussex Downs, but nobody will be reaping a better yield than Frankie Dettori. For in winning the first two Group races of the meeting yesterday, both Iffraaj and Sixties Icon promised him a bumper crop later in the year.
The Godolphin team must be impatient of being asked whether their horses have "finally turned the corner". Nobody seems inclined to salute the way the stable has rallied over recent weeks, so that it now has the highest strike-rate in the land. Lest we forget, moreover, Iffraaj was unlucky not to win the July Cup itself at Newmarket last month, his run delayed before forcing a photo.
Stepped up in distance and down in class, he produced the best performance of his career in the Betfair Lennox Stakes. The bold strides he has taken with each start since the spring measure the way Godolphin have regrouped since being stricken by sickness on their return to Europe. True, they set themselves intimidating standards, computing success by Group One winners - but Iffraaj is unlikely to end the year without scoring at that level.
Covering a steady pace, he swept into the lead halfway up the straight and serenely extended his advantage to four lengths. True, Jeremy disappointed in sixth, and Nayyir got himself into yet another traffic jam. But this was a display of unmistakable class under a 4lb penalty.
Iffraaj's versatility is as much of a challenge as an asset and Simon Crisford conceded that it had been difficult choosing between this Group Two prize and the Cantor Spreadfair Sussex Stakes itself. "But you never regret a winning decision," the Godolphin manager said. "Seven furlongs is a good trip for him and he won with lots of authority." If Iffraaj is ever to try a mile, it will surely be at the Breeders' Cup in November, but he would seem likely to be kept to a shorter trip in the interim.
A step up in distance beckons Sixties Icon, 4-1 favourite for the Ladbrokes St Leger with the sponsor after a decisive success in the BGC Gordon Stakes. It is no mean effort to coast past a slugger like Linas Selection the way he did here, and this son of two Epsom winners - Galileo and Love Divine - looks qualified to give Jeremy Noseda a first British Classic of his own. He relaxed beautifully and seems blessed with that coveted blend, stamina and acceleration.
The St Leger takes sanctuary at York this year, with Doncaster closed for redevelopment, and Noseda may send Sixties Icon on reconnaissance in the Great Voltigeur Stakes. "He has made dramatic progress since the spring - the Derby came too soon for him - and I would like to think he would be better still in six weeks' time," the trainer said. "He found the ground too firm at Ascot, getting behind and leaving himself with a bit too much to do in the finish. But he ran on gamely and he'll be even better over the Leger trip."
Dettori completed a treble when Chataway won the maiden, though here it was the less experienced runner-up - Brave Tin Soldier, sent over from Ballydoyle for his debut - who promised most for the future.
As usual, some rather more precocious juveniles contested the Betfair Molecomb Stakes, where the two unbeaten runners bitterly contested that status to the wire. The photo revealed the nostril of the filly, Enticing, just in front of Wi Dud's. She carries the colours of Lael Stable, which earlier this year produced both Barbaro and George Washington to win Classics on the same day. William Haggas is now toying with the idea of running this speedball against her seniors in the Prix de l'Abbaye - just as he did her mother, Superstar Leo, who beat all bar Namid.
* Ansar goes for a hat-trick in today's Galway Plate (3.40) and an eighth win in all at the famous Irish festival. The 10yo chaser carries 11st 10lb against 21 rivals.
NB: Echo Of Light
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