There is no denying the yeoman nature of the present crop of stayers, Yeats apart, but none is more hardy than Sergeant Cecil, who yesterday won the second Group prize of his career just 17 days after the first. The transfer of the GNER Doncaster Cup to York suited him well - he has now been here four times and been beaten by only one horse - and he saw off another veteran, Alamzar, by a length.
He did wander slightly in front, in the process aggrieving connections of Alamzar, but the stewards found no reason to inflame admirers of the popular favourite. With Alan Munro still awaiting a verdict on his medical problems, Sergeant Cecil was again ridden by Frankie Dettori. "He had me a bit snookered, as he wasn't really travelling and then came back on the bridle," Dettori said. "He perhaps went a bit too soon but he had plenty in hand."
Another proletarian animal to have reached giddy heights this year is Rising Cross, who relished the step up in distance for the Park Hill Stakes. She had already advertised the talents of John Best when second in the Oaks, but he cherished this first Group success even more.
"She's so tough and keeps on bouncing back from her races," the trainer said. "The track was a bit sharp for her in America last time, and the ground a bit firm, but she loves her racing. She kept getting into trouble up the straight but she eventually squeezed through."
Kevin Ryan has enjoyed plenty of Group success already but his frustrations at that level this year had been typified by narrow defeats in the Molecomb and Gimcrack for Wi Dud. So he was delighted when the same colt, well ridden by Neil Callan, pounced off an excessive gallop in the Flying Childers Stakes.
"When you are campaigning at this level you have to accept some narrow defeats," Ryan said. "I had my turn last year, but it's nice to get one on the board."
Fabre confronted by Pride in Prix Foy
The Japanese star, Deep Impact, is the only one of the first four in the betting on the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe who is not stabled with André Fabre. The perennial French champion trainer is a creature of habit and runs all three of his candidates in the traditional trials over course and distance at Longchamp tomorrow - even though that entails Hurricane Run and Shirocco, the two most formidable middle-distance horses in Europe, going for the same race.
They meet in the Prix Foy, where their only meaningful opponent is Pride, the mare who beat Hurricane Run prior to his success in the King George at Ascot in July.
Historically these trials involve a good deal of shadow boxing, and Fabre's priority is doubtless that both horses shed any cobwebs without having too severe a race. Shirocco has had a particularly long break, unraced since winning the Coronation Cup in June.
His other Arc candidate is Rail Link, who contests the Prix Niel for three-year-olds. He faces three interesting British opponents in Youmzain, Dragon Dancer and especially Papal Bull. Aidan O'Brien saddles the progressive Fermion in the Prix Vermeille, the most earnest race on the card as a Group One for fillies.Reuse content