For some this is the most stylish period in the racing calendar, a month shared by the Panama hat meetings of Glorious Goodwood and, starting this afternoon, Newmarket's July meeting. It is the time to start getting mellow. The action down the Bunbury course is made more attractive by local comparison. Here the surroundings are picturesque, intimate and soothing, everything that the ugly sister of the Rowley Mile track is not.
There is also the July meeting's sense of rejuvenation, when great batches of promising two-year-olds are thrown on to the racecourse. Dubai Destination, Alhaarth and Pentire are just three of the outstanding thoroughbreds to have won here as juveniles. And today it is the turn of the young fillies in the Cherry Hinton Stakes, the first Group Two race of the season in Europe for two-year-olds.
The filly to concentrate on here is Mark Johnston's representative, which is Attraction in both name and nature. The daughter of Efisio is by no means a perfect physical specimen, though her crooked legs still manage to operate rather quickly. Her winning tour of the provinces took in Nottingham, Thirsk and Beverley before she hit the West End of Royal Ascot's Queen Mary Stakes.
Attraction now attempts to be the first filly since Forest Flower in 1986 to complete the Queen Mary and Cherry Hinton double, and while no one who witnessed her Ascot romp will be against her today, it is to be noted that this will be an initial venture over six furlongs.
The only other filly to remotely make a race of it in Berkshire was David Loder's Catstar, and the Newmarket trainer mounts a twin-pronged attack this time with Pearl Grey, apparently his No1 as the mount of Frankie Dettori, and Rosehearty.
Loder's record with juveniles at the meeting is striking. Of his 23 runners at this gathering over the last five years, nine have won, four have been second, two third, four fourth, two fifth and two sixth. The statistics are therefore on the side of Pearl Grey, a recent course-and-distance winner, though it would be near heresy to desert Attraction (2.50).
Tim Easterby saddles another unbeaten northern filly in Birthday Suit in the Cherry Hinton, on what could be a marquee day for the Great Habton trainer. In the Princess Of Wales's Stakes, also Group Two, he saddles perhaps his favourite horse in Bollin Eric, who brought Classic prestige to the yard in last year's St Leger. Indeed, today's 12-furlong contest could be billed as the collision of the Leger winners, as the millennium victor, Millenary, is also in the field.
Bollin Eric has struggled a little this season, largely because of the success of last. Again he has to concede weight all round here, just as he had to when second to Indian Creek in the Hardwicke Stakes at Ascot. Behind that day, and apparently held at these weights, were the Mark Johnston pair of Zindabad and Bandari.
Another who has moved on here from the Royal meeting is High Accolade, the winner of the King Edward VII Stakes. His claims would be more plausible had Delsarte, his nearest pursuer that day, not run so poorly in the Eclipse Stakes.
Despite the small field there appears to be plenty of pace around and that provides the key. The Leger horses will be able to bring their stamina into play and the unpenalised MILLENARY (nap 3.25) can follow up last year's win.
One Easterby horse to be with is Dazzling Bay (2.15), who has rattled up an impressive hat-trick, including the William Hill Trophy at York, and is now ante-post favourite for the Stewards' Cup. Dazzling Bay is now up a rather daunting 27lb from when his run started, but it may be that even he can drag that anchor along behind him.
The opening race is the most difficult to fathom, but history tells us that Topton, who was second in this last year, will be weaving through quickly in the closing stages. That should take him into second place behind Hurricane Floyd (next best 1.45), who was runner-up in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting.Reuse content