It will soon come around to awards time in the realm of racing and we are entering the period of the athletic hustings. Working backwards, there will be merit points to be earned at the Breeders' Cup meeting in New York at the end of next month, on the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe card in Paris in less than two weeks' time, and, most pertinently, in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Saturday.
Whichever horse wins the mile race held this year at Newmarket while Ascot remains hard hat territory will go a long way to establishing itself as the leading eight-furlong beast in Europe. The competition is strong, but Dubawi is a short-priced favourite with both Hills (6-4) and Coral (13-8), though Ladbrokes go 2-1. Dubawi, the Irish 2,000 Guineas winner, more recently landed a famous victory when defeating Whipper and Valixir in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville. His Godolphin masters are currently four-handed, as they have also accepted with Layman and Council Member, as well as the six-year-old Blatant.
Rakti, the winner 12 months ago, was also successful on his seasonal reappearance in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury. Those performances though represent the beacon of his good behaviour. Arranged around those victories are five defeats, many of them characterised by a loss of temper.
The last of the musketeers is the ex-Australian Starcraft, who took some time to get the lethargy out of his limbs when transferred to Luca Cumani but is now a horse which also had Whipper and Valixir in arrears when winning the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp earlier this month.
Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien can choose between 1,000 Guineas winner Virginia Waters and the progressive four-year-old Mullins Bay, while a top-class entry is completed by Celebration Mile winner Chic and Sleeping Indian, successful in the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury last month. O'Brien also has a persuasive card to play from his hand in Saturday's Fillies' Mile at Headquarters. The Ballydoyle trainer has the sumptuous choice of Alexandrova, High Chaparral's full sister Chenchikova and Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Rumplestiltskin.
Further ahead on the awards trail, Milton Bradley reports that The Tatling is likely to advance his claims to be the best sprinter in training at the age of eight by taking in the Prix de l'Abbaye on Arc day. The Tatling has suffered little aftereffect to his late-charging win in Saturday's World Trophy at Newbury. "He's been perfect, no problems whatsoever. In fact, it doesn't seem like the race has taken much out of him at all," Bradley reported. "I would think it's pretty certain he'll go for the Abbaye now." It was The Tatling's first victory since last year's World Trophy.
Soviet Song's attempts to register a final vote-winning performance continue. The multiple Group One-winning mare has missed several possible races since her last outing, when she was second in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood in July.
"We just had a sticky spell with her," James Fanshawe, the trainer, said. "She coughed a week after Goodwood, which took a while to clear up, and then she had a sore foot last week. She's back cantering but whether we will get her there in time for the Breeders' Cup [on 29 October], we will have to wait and see."
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Newmarket, Saturday, 1m) betting: Hills: 6-4 Dubawi, 11-4 Rakti, Starcraft, 8-1 Chic, 9-1 Mullins Bay, 11-1 Sleeping Indian, 25-1 others.
Coral: 13-8 Dubawi, 2-1 Rakti, 5-2 Starcraft, 10-1 Sleeping Indian, 12-1 Mullins Bay, 20-1 Layman.
Ladbrokes: 2-1 Dubawi, 5-2 Starcraft, 11-4 Rakti, 7-1 Chic, 8-1 Mullins Bay, 12-1 Sleeping Indian, 16-1 Layman, 20-1 others.Reuse content