Bloodsuckers are a huge problem in racing, nasty little, single-figure IQ beasts which feed off what would be an otherwise healthy body. But that's enough advertising for Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill.
There are other vampires out there and this may be the only earthly comparison in which the mosquito comes out quite well. Despite the consequences of global warming, Clive Brittain trusts there will be none of the dipterous insects hanging around in Swinley Bottom this Saturday to damage the prospects of his Warrsan in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
Warrsan may be a gleaming half-ton hulk of racing material, but he can be put off by little things, especially when they bite. Like his half-brother Luso, another former inmate at Newmarket's Carlburg stables, Warrsan is particularly susceptible to the mosquito bite and so particularly susceptible when on trips abroad. Like Luso before him, he got chewed to bits in Italy last month, when contesting the Gran Premio di Milano in the hands of Philip Robinson.
"Philip said that as fast as he pushed them off at the start they kept coming back," Brittain said yesterday. "The horse became restless in the stalls, which is not like him at all. He was sluggish in the early part of the race and never really got going until they turned for home. By then it was too late.
"He got bitten by the mosquitoes and he's allergic to them so he came out in a reaction straight away. The mosquitoes are very bad at Milan. Luso got beaten twice in Milan for exactly the same reason. A violent reaction to the mosquitoes. It must be something that comes through the dam's side because they're by different stallions.
"We had a mosquito sheet made up for Warrsan and used two different types of spray. We used it on every part we could get to. Even that didn't deter them."
Brittain, himself, though has not become poisoned. Warrsan may be trading at 14-1 in the other bloodsuckers' market, but the now veteran trainer still considers he has the horse to beat, especially as the Classic crop seems deficient this year.
"The only three-year-old that's come up with a result is Oasis Dream in the July Cup," the trainer said. "He's the only one that's made a dent in the older horses. You have to say that all we have to do is run our best race. They have got to prove themselves.
"My horse is going in fit, in good heart and I couldn't be more pleased with his condition. We have to be a little confident."
Brittain's charge was one of the few shafts of colour as the King George horses put the finishing touches to their preparations over the weekend. Kris Kin, the Derby winner, did his usual slothful stuff on the watered gallop at Newmarket on Saturday. He will attempt to become only the third horse in the last 10 years, alongside Lammtarra (1995) and Galileo (2001), to follow up in the King George after Blue Riband success.
In the aftermath of this work, a deep throat revelation came from Joe Mercer, the racing manager to owner Saeed Suhail. "As far as I know all is well," Mercer said. "He's fine."
Another to trample the watered gallop was Godolphin's Sulamani, who looked as though he could beat the world in the Dubai Sheema Classic in March, but then looked as though it was on his shoulders in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud last month. He worked seven furlongs in the hands of Frankie Dettori with his galloping companion, Celtic Silence. If the ground is suitably good, and Ascot begin watering today, he will run. An even later decision will be taken about stablemate Grandera.
KING GEORGE VI & QUEEN ELIZABETH STAKES (Ascot, Saturday) Ladbrokes: 5-2 Alamshar, 4-1 Nayef, 5-1 Kris Kin, 6-1 Sulamani, 7-1 Falbrav, 12-1 Victory Moon, 14-1 Millenary, 16-1 Indian Creek, Leadership, Warrsan, 20-1 Bollin Eric, 25-1 Grandera, Mamool, 33-1 others.
Coral: 11-4 Alamshar, 5-1 Kris Kin, Nayef, 6-1 Sulamani, Falbrav, 12-1 Indian Creek, Warrsan, Victory Moon, 16-1 Bollin Eric, 20-1 Leadership, Chevalier, Millenary, Norse Dancer, 25-1 Bandari, Grandera, Mamool, Black Sam Bellamy, 33-1 others.
RACING IN BRIEF: SULAMANI BACKED FOR KING GEORGE
* Two Godolphin horses were the focus of punters' attention in betting on the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes over the weekend. Ladbrokes report backing for Sulamani, who is 6-1 from 8-1, and Victory Moon , who remains on 12-1 "Sulamani was a horse we were happy to lay following his fourth in the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud," the firm's Balthazar Fabricius said. "However, the money came yesterday and again this morning and he is now our worst loser. We have laid Victory Moon from 40-1 all the way in to 12-1 so market confidence speaks for itself."
* Mine, an unlucky loser when hampered in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket this month in which he finished a head behind the winner, Patavellian, will attempt to go one better in the £150,000 Tote International Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
* Mark Johnston's Leo's Luckyman was hurt during the loading process for the Group Three Lotto Hessen Pokal at Frankfurt yesterday and was withdrawn. Jimmy Quinn won the race on Picotee, an 11.8-1 chance, trained by Andreas Bolte.