The proliferation of 'For Sale' signs at the gateway to several of the town's stables and the recent suggestion that the Maktoum family may be about to reduce their involvement at racing's capital have been forwarded as symptoms of impending doom.
However, today at Ascot, there is evidence for the defence when a new face to Headquarters' training ranks, David Loder, sends out his first runners. Loder, who was assistant to Geoff Wragg for four years, has a hard act to follow in his attempt to prove that preparing racehorses at Newmarket is still a viable concern.
The two previous men to send out horses from his base at the Sefton Lodge yard were Henry Cecil and Luca Cumani, who opposes Loder's first runner today, Mukhamedov, with Declassified.
'It's definitely going to be tough following them, but there's nothing like making it hard for yourself,' Loder said yesterday.
The new kid on the block realises he is putting his neck in a similar place. 'I've always wanted to be a trainer and I just thought the time was right now,' he said. 'Like any business, it's going to be difficult at the start but I'll just have to work as hard as I can and hope I get the breaks. In racing parlance, hope that the gaps come.'
Loder expects Mukhamedov to be a better performer next year and the suggestion is that the best chance of breaking his duck this afternoon lies with Gueca Solo. The first race then may go to another Newmarket man, Michael Stoute, who provides the only filly in the Autumn Stakes, Iviza (2.00).
The daughter of Sadler's Wells committed many of the sins of the greenhorn in the Fillies' Mile at Ascot last time, missing the break and then exerting her energy in short, sapping bursts, yet still managed to finish third to Ivanka.
Cumani's turn should not be long in coming as in the following race, the Princess Royal Stakes, he saddles the clear form choice in Cunning (2.30). The filly has progressed so prodigously this season that she was considered for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe following her latest second to Jolypha in the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp.
Trainers from outside Newmarket hold sound prospects in the card's other televised events. Richard Hannon's TERRHARS (nap 3.00) can take the sprint handicap, while Fyfield Flyer (3.35), who is prepared by Peter Chapple-Hyam, looks the one for the Cornwallis Stakes on his improved performance at Ayr last month.
At York, there should be success for another of Newmarket's youth brigade, James Fanshawe, who is in his third full season at Pegasus stables. Fanshawe is represented in the Rockingham Stakes by Mithl Al Hawa (3.45), who has been running in useful company.
Others for the short-list on the Knavesmire are Jumaira Shark (3.15), Prenonamoss (4.45) and Sunday's Hill (next best 4.15), who is trained in Lambourn by Michael Blanshard.
Blanshard's neighbour, Oliver Sherwood, is pursuing the weekend's largest pot today in the Breeders' Cup Chase at Belmont Park, where he saddles Young Pokey. The other foreign visitors are Cock Cockburn, who is trained in Ireland by John Queally, and Francois Doumen's Sassello.
This race, though, may go to a horse who learned his trade in Britain before being exported, Highland Bud, the winner of the race three years ago and the mount of Richard Dunwoody.Reuse content