Having seen his gallops scorched yet again yesterday morning, Marcus Tregoning spent the afternoon doing his best to ensure that lightning would strike twice.
Tregoning watched Sir Percy produce another brutal bout of sparring in preparation for the Emirates Champion Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday and then hastened to the same Tattersalls yearling sale there where he found the Derby winner for just 16,000 guineas two years ago. This time he was pushed to 70,000 guineas for another son of Mark Of Esteem, but he sounded happy enough afterwards that he had again secured a bargain.
"He's very well bred, out of a Barathea mare from the family of Miesque," the trainer noted. "He's a strong colt, very much the same size as Sir Percy, and I thought he was pretty fair value considering."
Every yearling is faultless until it has an owner, of course, but Tregoning could hardly offer a better advertisement than Sir Percy. On Saturday, making his first start since that dramatic win at Epsom in June, the colt will be returning to the scene of his success last year in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes. The only horse ever to finish in front of him remains George Washington, in the 2,000 Guineas back in May, again on the Rowley Mile. All in all, then, Sir Percy is on familiar territory and this time he is likely to find the surface much kinder, having been jarred up by firm conditions in both starts this season. The staccato rhythms of his career overall prove him to be lethal when fresh, too.
"We gave him a strong piece of work at Lingfield on Saturday and I would say he was a good deal sharper for that this morning," Tregoning said. "He's fit, there's no doubt about that. He worked five furlongs on good to soft grass, and quickened away from his lead horse. Martin Dwyer was extremely pleased with him."
His owners having long committed to keeping Sir Percy in training, Tregoning always intended to confine him to one race this autumn - and the alternative of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe was abandoned after a brief setback. The opposition on Saturday is headed by Pride and Hurricane Run, who did take their chance in Paris, finishing second and fourth respectively. "He was always going to have a break after the Derby, regardless, because of the firm summer ground," Tregoning said. "But the three-year-old form has held up very well in the mean time, and I must admit to being quite confident he will run a big race on Saturday. He's the one with the turn of foot, after all." The older candidates include three trained by Sir Michael Stoute: Notnowcato and Maraahel, divided by a short head at York last time, and Rob Roy, whose fitful record presents an exacting test of Kerrin McEvoy's recent Midas touch for the stable. McEvoy extended his run on its juveniles to five consecutive maiden wins when Mythical Kid, related to the top class Divine Proportions, made a striking debut at Newbury yesterday.
McEvoy later completed a double on Abhisheka, taking his overall score for the season to 73 - and his £1 level stakes profit soaring towards £130. His dexterity and discipline have brought him a long way in the affections of British punters, and his departure this weekend for Australia is another nail in the Flat season's coffin. His chief assignment in his homeland is Godolphin's Imperial Stride, in both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. "The track at Flemington will suit him better, as Caulfield is a bit of graveyard for horses that haven't run out there," he said. "That'll be a tight, fast-run race and if you don't get a position you're in trouble. The step up to two miles in the (Melbourne) Cup is a bit of an unknown, but a mile-and-a-half horse is what you need. I don't want to dampen his chance at Caulfield, but the other race is going to be his big target."
Lemon Drop Kid, sire of Mythical Kid, has few runners outside the United States yet managed another impressive winner just an hour later in Sunshine Kid. And the card also yielded a debut success for Go On Be A Tiger, the first foal of that outstanding juvenile, Queen's Logic. This colt did not meet his reserve at the sales last year, even at 925,000 guineas - for which sum you could have bought 57 varieties of Sir Percy. So far, though, so good.
Nap: Freeze The Flame
NB: Bob Mountain