Rakti has raced just twice this year, an imperious blitz in the Lockinge Stakes followed by a tame, for him, runner-up spot in the Queen Anne Stakes in June. Tame cannot describe his behaviour that day at York, though, when circumstances conspired to stir his volatile temperament. He was tipped over the edge of reason as he emerged on to the track by a racegoer making the click-click noises with his tongue that mean gee-up to a horse.
It is Rakti's brain, not his brawn, that will be Jarvis's chief concern on the Rowley Mile. And specifically, the effect the pre-race catwalking will have on it. "He is fit and has been working very well," he said yesterday, "and despite not having run since June, a long break between races seems advantageous to him. The track holds no fears, he won the Champion Stakes on it two years ago. But the parade does. For a horse like him it is the last thing we need. To be honest, I think parades are a waste of time. They upset a lot of horses, who sometimes then don't produce their true form."
For a powderkeg performer the Newmarket parades are probably the least worst option, being of the free-flowing variety. Rather than being restrained at a walk in front of a crucible grandstand, the gladiators are released at intervals in racecard order to do a solo canter past their public for final inspection.
"Over the last year Rakti has become much more amenable at home," added Jarvis. "He goes out with the string, though he goes off and exercises with just one other. But as long as I keep him to territory he knows he's fine. He's a horse that doesn't like change, very much a creature of habit. He was on his best behaviour when we took him to Lingfield to work recently but of course the atmosphere of an empty racecourse will be very different to what it will be on Saturday."
The ex-Australian Starcraft has also shown various tigerish qualities on the racecourse. The five-year-old was only half-a-length behind Rakti on the Knavesmire, his northern hemisphere debut, and snarled to an all-the-way victory in the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp 17 days ago. But between times he threw a proper hissy fit before the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.
"Apparently, he fluffed his lines like that once before, in Australia," said trainer Luca Cumani, "but he's not in the habit of doing it. He is strong and powerful and not as easy as some from a psychological point of view. But he is no real problem to train; In fact, he's rather a pussycat at home."
Both Rakti and Starcraft will have their final pipe-openers this morning; the third member of the mighty miling triumvirate, Saturday's ante-post favourite Dubawi, completed his preparations yesterday with a sparkling six-furlong spin under Frankie Dettori. The Godolphin three-year-old was much more chipper than his jockey, who felt too unwell to ride at Newmarket during the afternoon.
Dubawi's trainer Saeed Bin Suroor is looking for some help from the heavens ahead of the colt's return to the scene of his only defeat over a mile, on firm ground in the 2,000 Guineas. "His action was very good when he worked and he was happy," said Bin Suroor, "but we will be praying for rain."
The going is currently on the good side of firm at Newmarket with some precipitation due on Friday.
Dubawi will retire to stud after the Breeders' Cup Mile next month, but the Godolphin team has strengthened its older-horse squad for next year with the acquisition of Proclamation, Imperial Stride and Plea Bargain, none of whom will race again this term.
Whether one of last year's star fillies, Ouija Board, will run in Saturday's Princess Royal Stakes on the Newmarket supporting card will be decided after a workout this morning. One of the current Classic distaff crop, Maids Causeway, came though a post-injury racecourse gallop yesterday with flying colours ahead of her Sun Chariot Stakes date on Saturday week.
NB: Beaver Patrol
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