For in the transporter there were two horses that had started their journey at the Chantilly base of Andre Fabre, Intrepidity, the Oaks winner, and Wemyss Bight, the first and second favourites for the Irish Oaks this afternoon.
Intrepidity is strongly expected by most to give Fabre his first Irish Classic and the French their first Irish Oaks victory since Francois Boutin's Lagunette in 1976. Fabre's filly produced an astonishing performance at Epsom, looking for much of the way like Bambi on rollerskates before staying on to beat Royal Ballerina and Oakmead, both of whom re- oppose today.
Her owner, Sheikh Mohammed, has won this with Unite (1987), the dead-heaters Diminuendo and Melodist (1988) and Alydaress (1989) and had to supplement Intrepidity at a cost of IR pounds 25,000 earlier this week in an attempt to resume the run. The presentation ceremony today may consist of the Sheikh taking a wad of notes out of one trouser pocket and slipping it into another, as the Classic is sponsored by his Kildangan Stud.
The Irish do not often win this race (Con Collins's Princess Pati in 1984 was the last home winner), and they look unlikely to improve the record this year as their leading hope, the Aga Khan's Takarouna, is a dubious stayer and possessor of such brittle temperament that she has to be accompanied everywhere by the Linus blanket of a retired pony.
This looks like a victory for the horsebox, though it may be through the second string Wemyss Bight (3.55), who like her stable-mate seemed discomfited by the topography of Epsom Downs. Khalid Abdullah's filly has since danced away with the Group Two Prix de Malleret at Longchamp, at the same time beating animals who finished closer to Intrepidity earlier in the year.
The main card in Britain, at York, is so mundane that none of the big Arab players have a runner in the televised races. What purports to be the feature race is the Magnet Cup, an event which usually culminates in smiles only among those with suntans, portable phones and gaudy suits with chalk in the pocket.
One of the entries, Alderbrook, has done nothing to warm the bookmakers though, winning five consecutive races this year and attracting decent support on each occasion. But he has risen 26lb in the weights since the start of the season - the difference between having a boney Lester Piggott in the saddle and the more chunky Steve Smith Eccles - and may now be there for the taking.
The beneficiary may be HIGHBROOK (nap 4.15), who finished just over two lengths behind Alderbrook at Ascot last month and who now re-opposes on 13lb better terms.
There are also chances for the Royal Ascot failures Little Rousillon (3.10) and Cumbrian Waltzer, who runs in the Saturday deja vu sprint handicap. The former turned in a creditable effort for a 33-1 shot in Berkshire and now runs from a stone lower mark, while Cumbrian Waltzer (4.45) found only Nagida too good among his 29 opponents in the Wokingham.
The other televised race has attracted a poor field for a Listed event and it may well be won by the horse who is considered the least able of the four runners, Ian Balding's Brandon Prince (next best 3.40). If you're on the A1 today just hope the first box in the inside lane is the one bearing the name of the Kingsclere trainer.
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