Proclamation did the fast running here yesterday to capture the highlight of the racing year on the West Sussex downs. He was gone in 100 seconds. As significant though was the swift thinking of his rider, Michael Kinane, who, if he did not steal the Sussex Stakes, at least borrowed it without any intention of giving it back.
Jockeys, like football managers, probably get too much credit when things are going well and too much criticism when they do not. But Kinane demonstrably made a difference yesterday.
The slinky manoeuvre the Irishman conducted three furlongs out, when he simultaneously intimidated and delayed the run of his market rival, Soviet Song, won him more ground than the half length he ultimately finished in front of the mare. It was yet another trick from the old dog.
While Kinane's qualities remain undoubted in the blinding twilight of his career, this was final proof that Proclamation is the real deal. The further pinnacles of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Breeders' Cup Mile await Jeremy Noseda's colt now he has confirmed that his awesome gallops form can be translated to the racecourse. "I'm delighted to win a Group One and thrilled to bring this horse through," the trainer said. "We had big hopes for him for a long time and to finally deliver him here at this point is a huge thrill."
It was, as far as the elements were concerned, another miserable day at the foot of Trundle Hill. The dirty clouds came up and down on the racecourse as if on blind strings and the showers intensified at the moment the field left the paddock for the main race. Soviet Song needed the dousing.
Even on this cool day, the 2-1 favourite was most excitable. Steam rose from her back and she threw her head around in anticipation. The strong figure of Proclamation was last into the ring and the first out as connections attempted to preserve his energy for the race proper. It was certainly not used up too early when the stalls opened.
Ad Valorem was briskly away for Ballydoyle, while Soviet Song skulked along one from the end. Proclamation was last, for the time being on the filly's tail.
That changed just after the entrance to the straight. As on Saturday, when Kinane had no immediate desire to join the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes fray on Azamour, he kept well out. The 46-year-old became a Spitfire pilot, getting himself between the enemy and the sun. Then came the dive.
Proclamation covered Soviet Song and then smothered her with a sharp burst. Like any good general, Kinane had won the battle not from the front but with planning out in the field. Soviet Song, who had been warm, was then too late to warm up. Her delayed blast-off meant she could never mount a meaningful challenge. The definitive skirmish had already taken place.
"He's a very talented horse," Kinane reported. "I got there sooner than I anticipated. I wanted to be the last to play my cards but the opportunity was there for me to go on and hold Johnny [in] a bit and I thought it was time for me to go. He has serious acceleration. I knew Soviet Song was going to come and I was there to be shot at, but he did enough to hold on."
This was afternoon confirmation of what Noseda had seen on so many thrilling mornings on the Newmarket gallops. "He has a huge turn of foot," the trainer said. "I asked Mick to be the last man to deliver his challenge, but Mick said he had to go because he knew he could put Johnny in the pocket. I'd like to hold him up for longer in the future. I'm sure he's a Group One performer from six furlongs to one mile. The horse is growing up and getting better."
Soviet Song, the winner here 12 months ago, found she could not scramble over the statistical barrier that horses seem to find it impossible to repeat Sussex Stakes success.
"Someone told me yesterday that no horse has won this race twice and I wish they hadn't bothered," James Fanshawe, the five-year-old's trainer, said. "The trouble with this more holding ground is that she can't quicken up so well, but she has still run a hell of a race to be second. Soviet Song is still the queen. There are no other queens. But Proclamation is the king today."
Hyperion's selections for today's other meetings:
Carlisle: 2.05 Grand Opera 2.35 Undeterred 3.10 Gem Bien 3.45 Sonic Anthem 4.20 Whitethorne 4.55 Chaza Zulu
Musselburgh: 6.20 French Mannequin 6.50 What-A-Dancer 7.20 Santerno 7.50 Aspen Falls 8.20 He's A Rocket 8.50 Hazewind
Nap: Alamiyan (Goodwood 4.00)
NB: Moss Vale (Goodwood 2.50)Reuse content