HARAYIR won the Challenge Stakes at Newmarket yesterday to set up what would be, without a shadow of a doubt, the most deserved success in the Breeders' Cup later this month.
The estimable filly may now be the avenger at Belmont Park for Willie Carson, Dick Hern and Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, who probably still sits bolt upright in the dead of night at the memory of Dayjur's performance in New York five years ago, when the colt jettisoned certain victory by jumping the shadow of the stand.
If hardiness is to be the key to the Breeders' Cup Mile, then Harayir can easily be envisaged with the winner's garland across her thick shoulders. The daughter of Gulch, who beat Soviet Line by half a length yesterday, opened her seasonal account in the 1,000 Guineas over the Rowley Mile in May, and yesterday's success on the same course was her fourth Group race victory of the year.
It was also further proof of Dick Hern's training endurance. Every time that followers of the sport expect Hern to wheel himself into the sunset he comes up with yet another talented standard-bearer. Hern delights in Harayir's achievements and versatility and expects even more from her. "Harayir has won over seven furlongs and a mile and is not bad over six furlongs either," he said yesterday. "She ran at the Craven meeting in mid-April and it is now mid-October and she's still going. She's a joy to train.
"We will have to see what Sheikh Hamdan says, but if the ground is right and looks like being on top, there must be a possibility she will run in the Breeders' Cup Mile.
"A lot of people said to me after Dayjur's defeat that at least he will always be remembered, but I would much rather have won and been forgotten. I won't forget that day in a hurry."
The biggest cheque yesterday was pocketed in Cleveland by Michael Jarvis, whose Blue Iris, a 7,600 guineas purchase, took her earnings to almost pounds 144,000 in the Redcar Two-Year-Old Trophy. Residents close to the North- East track had to keep their windows closed on Monday as a huge chemical fire raged nearby, and the shutters may have been closed again yesterday to prohibit the noise of horseflesh, as 26 runners thundered down the straight. At the head of the mass, Blue Iris equalled the juvenile course record as she beat Cayman Kai.
Jarvis's Newmarket neighbour, John Gosden, will today influence Lanfranco Dettori's decision about appealing against a 10-day ban imposed on Wednesday. If the jockey appeals successfully, he will be free to ride Gosden's Tamure in tomorrow's Champion Stakes.
Stanley House's fancied runner in the Cesarewitch is out however as the ground is considered too firm for Istabraq, who had been the second favourite.
Gosden has missed out on the chance of lucre there and he may also be casting wistfully at the Dubai World Cup, for which 48 entrants were announced yesterday. Halling, who was formerly trained by Gosden, will be one of the favourites for the world's richest race at $4m on 27 March. Others with the whiff of big bucks are Cigar, Pennekamp, Freedom Cry and Sheikh Hamdan's Bahri.
The Sheikh is represented by yet another talent today when Alhaarth offers his unbeaten record for inspection in the Dewhurst Stakes. While PAPAHA (nap 3.05) may be the best value of the day, it is the Dewhurst, despite its meagre turnout, which will attract most attention. For four of the last five years the race's winner has gone on to British Classic success.
Alhaarth's main rival is thought to be Danehill Dancer, but there were distinctly pessimistic noises emanating from the latter's camp yesterday and it appears that the Sheikh, Hern and Carson should have no worries here. They can reserve those for shadows over the water in two weeks' time.