Racing: Proclamation takes quick dip in flyer's pond

The fact that his connections - he carries the colours of Sheikh Mohammed's latest wife Princess Haya and is trained by Jeremy Noseda - consider his feet winged enough to cope at the top level on his first try at as short as six furlongs is a reflection of the perceived lack of quality in the sprint division.

Victory would confirm it, a wide-margin rout would likely earn him the divisional title. It can be done; in 1973 Thatch demonstrated versatile brilliance by taking the St James' Palace Stakes, July Cup and Sussex Stakes.

Proclamation, a first-crop son of King's Best, has already taken the Goodwood showpiece, in which he demonstrated an exceptional turn of foot on soft ground to defeat Soviet Song. Before that, he had been equally impressive in the Jersey stakes at York, over seven furlongs. He has the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Breeders' Cup Mile pencilled in, but then so has the Sheikh's favourite, Dubawi, so balls must be considered in the air.

Proclamation's only defeat in five outings came when last of six in the Dante Stakes, at a time when he was being tried as a Derby candidate. That day he refused point-blank to settle for today's rider Frankie Dettori, but has since matured not only physically but mentally. Dettori is less concerned about the drop in distance - when he test-drove the colt over today's trip on the gallops last week his display was spectacular - than ill-luck in running from the number three box in a 17-strong field on a late-pouncing horse.

"He is big and powerful and has a fantastic cruising speed," he said yesterday, "and it would take a pretty good horse to get him off the bridle early on. His style of running is to come from behind and we are not going to change that; the plan is to let him find his stride and produce him when he is ready. His draw is not ideal and with that many runners the key will be to get a smooth passage, and that is what I will be concentrating on." Plenty of Proclamation's rivals have met each other before with varying results and with no obvious hierarchy the run of the race will determine whose turn it is today.

For Goodricke, who took the step up from handicap to Group One company in his stride when beating all bar Whipper in the Prix Maurice de Gheest last month, there is a certain amount of family honour at stake, both on the human and equine side; he is owned by Sheikh Mohammed, and is a brother to now-retired July Cup winner Pastoral Pursuits, the pro tem holder of the sprint crown.

Others to consider are Galeota, if he can be forgiven his dull July Cup effort, and the each-way value Patavellian, who will have his ground and is reportedly back to his fighting weight. But the oft-vain search for a genuine star can this time produce one in Proclamation (2.15).

Richard Hills has two bites of the feature-race cherry today; after partnering Etlaala at Haydock he considers it worth flying to Newmarket to ride Imperial Stride in the September Stakes. But the upwardly-mobile four-year-old may be thwarted by Mamool (4.05) already proven in the grade and beyond, and so unlucky last time out.

The Group One circus pitches tents in three countries tomorrow. France hosts the latest round of the miling show, the Prix du Moulin, as the autumn season gets under way at Longchamp. Nine line up, including Whipper and Valixir, second and third to Dubawi in the Jacques le Marois 20 days ago, for the home side and Proclamation's stablemate Majors Cast, pipped by a whisker by Chic at Goodwood a week ago, for the raiders.

The season's first top-level contest exclusively for juvenile fillies, the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh, lacks one exciting prospect as a result of yesterday's decision to send unbeaten Mick Channon-trained Flashy Wings straight to the Cheveley Park Stakes.

But there is another in the field, the Aidan O'Brien candidate Rumplestiltskin. And in Germany, seven-year-old Warrsan faces a tough call as he bids for a repeat victory in the Grosser Preis von Baden. His 10 rivals include Europe's best stayer Westerner, local Derby hero Nicaron, the pride of the Czech Republic, Darsalam, and Godolphin's Cherry Mix.

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