Last year's Derby winner was neither successful nor awful and his future remains unclear. Second place to Fantastic Light was hardly the platform to shout Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe prospects from the rooftops, but then neither did the four-year-old have Godolphin connections rueing the decision to add him to their merry band last year. "All the balls are still in the air," Simon Crisford, the team's racing manager, said at the end of a weekend when at least one shot had found the net.
Kayf Tara's Irish St Leger victory represented Godolphin's 15th Group One success of the campaign on Saturday and Almutawakel almost registered another at the highest level when touched off by the former Robert Armstong- trained River Keen in the Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park in New York.
In addition, the tally is likely to grow further as the towering Daylami continues on an ambitious programme. "I think you're talking about whether he runs in the Arc, the Champion Stakes or the Breeders' Cup and then you have the Japan Cup later," Crisford said. The Newmarket race, which is sponsored by the Maktoums, seems the favourite at this stage.
High-Rise will have to be accommodated somewhere and we now know he is not the extinguished figure his last place in the Dubai World Cup in March suggested. This was the horse's first run since the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes last summer and he arrived following reports of a renaissance on the gallops.
The generous words were easy to believe when the horse emerged. This neat, rubber-bridled figure bristled with vigour. It was, however, difficult to assess the condition of his principal market rival, Fantastic Light, shrouded in a blanket during the preliminaries.
Pozarica was meant to be the pacemaker for High-Rise but, in the event, Salford Express did the duty for free. Maylane again disgraced himself at the start. He needs treatment.
High-Rise was a bit fresh early on, his mouth agape as he wrestled with Olivier Peslier. He was, though, moving sweetest of the lot when the field swung into the straight and his prospects looked even greater as Kieren Fallon was forced to move vigorously in the saddle to keep Fantastic Light in the race.
Three furlongs out the Derby winner was in front, but then he, too, came under pressure. Fantastic Light appeared on his flank, and swerved right and then left, as if on his way home from a stag night. High-Rise fought back twice but, ultimately, lack of racing keenness found him out. Three- quarters of a length separated them at the line. "I thought the horse was a little rusty," Sheikh Mohammed said. "He hasn't run for a long time now and he got tired."
Crisford added: "He goes on soft ground, we saw that today, but for his first run of the year it probably wasn't ideal. I can say we're hoping for significant improvement off that run and the door is still very much open for the Arc. If we decide to run there, he'll run whatever the ground.
"He's had a series of niggling problems this year, but not one thing specific that has kept him off the track all this time. It's just meant that we had to leave him for an autumn campaign. His season is starting here and right now."
Fallon told Michael Stoute he was never confident of victory. "It was very hard to know what I had underneath me," he said. So the champion jockey just kept asking questions and the answers followed. Stoute himself was puzzled by Fantastic Light's immaturity considering the colt has run in several races of quality. "He was a bit babyish," he said. "You would have thought he would have learned a bit more by now."
Fantastic Light is also in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, but Stoute, too, was unable to confirm if he would go to Paris next month. Then again, it was not an afternoon for clarity of any description.
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