If we are to take the counsel of most wise men of the turf then Saturday's Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket can be narrowed down from a multi-layered racing contest to a simple match: Dubai Destination versus Rock Of Gibraltar II.
The juvenile championship appears to have distilled to a sequel to the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last month, when the stands view confirmed what the atlas already knew and Dubai was seen to the east of the Rock, in this case a length to the good.
Between them, David Loder and Aidan O'Brien, the respective trainers of the talented colts, account for 12 of the 16 entries for this weekend's £200,000 race. It is not difficult to imagine the race as a straightforward carve up, but then it is not that easy to vocalise such a thought in the Epsom area.
This would be to risk a salty Pearly King response from Terry Mills, a man who knows a thing or two about rubbish and the knocking down of the huge.
Mills determined yesterday that he would run his Somerville Tattersall Stakes victor Where Or When in the Dewhurst and the colt is not expected to make a fool of either himself or the yard. "He could just be the Group One horse we have been looking for," a stable spokesman said yesterday. "He has got an awful lot of talent and we think the world of him. With luck in running he should be able to get in there among them.
"If, as we expect, he does upset a few predictions, then we hope people don't question the result. It will take a good horse to get past him."
Mills has himself upset the script which had been written for him. He started working life with one rubbish truck and ended up with A & J Bull, a multi-million pound demolition and waste-disposal company. By the time he got out, 200 vehicles were pootling around under his direction.
Mills, who remains frighteningly active well into his 60s, had his first horse in training with John Sutcliffe 28 years ago. Eventually he decided to have a stab himself and bought Loretta Lodge from Brian Swift's executors just before the hurricane of 1987 rearranged the Epsom topography.
Along the way he has produced good horses in Bobzao, Mitcham and All The Way, who was sold to Godolphin two years ago. A profit could have been made from his runners to level stakes this season, which goes a long way to erasing Mills's great fear that people will think he is only playing at the racing game.
He is not. Yesterday he was among the massed ranks at the Tattersalls October Sales in Newmarket. By late afternoon the first batch of the 1,100 lots had gone and Mills discovered that people were still scratching their noses long after him. Still, there are plenty more young horses to be bought to replenish the ranks next season.
For now, though, there is Where Or When and the hope of a repeat of his run at Headquarters rather than the previous debacle at Sandown. "We knew the Solario form was a little suspect because Redback got the run of the race while we were forced very wide," the spokesman said. "It was a nightmare race and we were confident of getting revenge for that defeat at Newmarket."
Richard Quinn will be entrusted with the ride, while another riding Richard, one of the Hills twins, yesterday confirmed he would be partnering Nayef in Saturday's other Group One contest, the Champion Stakes.
Nayef, who was winter favourite for the Classics, has done much to slap his reputation back into life recently. Marcus Tregoning's colt, the Champion Stakes ante-post favourite, now attempts a fourth straight success.
Nayef beat Chianti by five lengths in the Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock in August before disposing of Askham by a comfortable six lengths in the three-runner Select Stakes at Goodwood last month and completed his hat-trick by beating Sagittarius by one and a quarter lengths in the Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot. Saturday will tell us if he is back to where he started from.Reuse content