The past fortnight has defined the young additions to the celebrity cast: Benny The Dip and Silver Patriarch from the Derby, Reams Of Verse, the Oaks winner, then the Royal Ascot successes Starborough, Rebecca Sharp and Yashmak, and then Peintre Celebre, the Prix du Jockey-Club winner who yesterday easily added the Grand Prix de Paris to a sequence of four wins in five races.
These are the representatives of the Classic generation, a generation that will have to be outstanding if they are going to wrest the big prizes away from an incredibly tough triumvirate of older horses: the Arc winner Helissio, the international champion Singspiel and, perhaps best of all, Bosra Sham. Watching the youngsters trying to make an impression on those three at Sandown, Ascot, Goodwood and York should be some sight.
Only a little patience is required before the first treat is dished up. The owner of Benny The Dip, Landon Knight, has persuaded the Derby winner's trainer, John Gosden, that, rather than pit his colt again against the Epsom runner-up, Silver Patriarch on Sunday, he should instead take on all-comers of all ages in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown the following Saturday. It means facing Bosra Sham. It means it was a brave decision.
Not only has Bosra Sham's eight-length win in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes on Tuesday earned her the title of "my best, ever," from Henry Cecil and official recognition of merit from the handicapper, but the horses she defeated at Sandown on her previous outing, Predappio and Centre Stalls, also paid compliment to her ability by winning the Hardwicke Stakes and finishing runner-up in the Queen Anne Stakes respectively.
"I needed a decision about where Benny The Dip runs today to sort out his training program," Gosden said yesterday. "Mr Knight thinks he is a mile-and-a-quarter horse but I think he might be worth another try over a mile and a half in the right circumstances. But it will be very soft ground in Ireland so he is going for the Eclipse."
Benny The Dip will be only the fifth Derby winner to go straight from Epsom to the Eclipse in more than a quarter of a century. Mill Reef added Sandown success to his Epsom victory in 1971, as did Nashwan in 1989. But Reference Point went down to Mtoto in the 1987 Eclipse and Erhaab could finish only third behind Ezzoud and Bob's Return three years ago. Against Bosra Sham, Benny The Dip is more likely to join the list of failures.
Silver Patriarch thus faces a rather more straightforward task at the Curragh on Sunday with The Fly, fifth at Epsom, the only other Derby principal certain to join him in Ireland. Entrepreneur, the disappointing Derby favourite, has not yet been ruled out and his trainer, Michael Stoute, is to make a statement today regarding the colt's plans.
Despite going so close to winning the Derby, despite the ground coming in his favour and despite the opposition falling away, John Dunlop, Silver Patriarch's trainer, is hardly bubbling with enthusiasm at his colt's chances of winning a race that last fell to the Arundel man in 1978 through Shirley Heights.
"I am hopeful that the track at the Curragh will suit him better than Epsom but I never have great confidence," Dunlop said. "Silver Patriarch hasn't done a great deal since the Derby but what he has done he has done very satisfactorily."
Olivier Peslier, who partnered Peintre Celebre to victory yesterday and also rides the great Helissio, was rather more effusive yesterday about the two colts who have Ascot's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on their agenda. "They are both like Ferraris," he said. And they are both heading this way.