Swearing in the jury for the trial of Kieren Fallon, Mr Justice Forbes yesterday exhorted its members to be patient during the months ahead. He said they would find the case complex, but very interesting. As it happens, he might have said much the same of the card at Newmarket today. And whatever they make of the allegations against Fallon and five others – who all deny a charge of defrauding punters – the Rowley Mile would surely have given the jurors a more flattering introduction to the sport than the Old Bailey.
Indeed, with two Group One prizes among a total of nine races, this represents a heady aperitif to one of the great weekends in the racing calendar, culminating on Sunday with the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. On the eve of his trial Fallon will be riding one of the favourites in Paris, with a forecast for dry weather reinforcing the prospects of Dylan Thomas. His employers' ambitions in the race can be measured by the fact that they yesterday spent ¿60,000 to supplement Song Of Hiawatha, whose only feasible competence could be as pacemaker.
The other late entry is Getaway, who represents the connections of the injured Manduro but will be going up in class and down in distance. He is one of only four candidates to keep the prize in France, the most fancied being Zambezi Sun, who finished third to Soldier Of Fortune in their trial over course and distance.
Zambezi Sun's trainer, Pascal Bary, has sent a very fast filly, Natagora, over to Newmarket for the Skybet Cheveley Park Stakes. She lost her unbeaten record to Myboycharlie when stepped up to this trip against colts at Deauville, and while better ground here may help her last home, there is no denying that raw speed is her forte. Indeed, Bary was toying with the idea of running her against older sprinters in the Prix de l'Abbaye on Sunday.
That was also an option for Fleeting Spirit, who invites similar reservations about the sixth furlong after her one run over this distance in the Lowther Stakes at York, when she raced energetically in the lead and was just worn down. In contrast, the runner-up that day, Visit, was closing late after being hampered, and probably sets the standard today. But the best value could rest in Elletelle, who represents one of the most talented young trainers in Ireland in Ger Lyons, and a jockey at the peak of his powers in Johnny Murtagh.
Like Natagora, this filly seemed to bite off rather more than she could chew when tackling Group One colts last time. But the ground was atrocious on that occasion, and she had previously built on her Royal Ascot success by flying into third in the Cherry Hinton Stakes at the July Course here.
Having missed the break, Elletelle (2.05) showed high-class acceleration to get involved that day – finishing a neck behind Festoso, who was receiving weight and went on to be beaten less than a length by Visit at York.
Sadly, the Cherry Hinton winner, You'resothrilling, took a physical battering at York and has not been since. Her absence has contributed to a low-key summer for the Ballydoyle two-year-olds, Listen's success at Ascot on Saturday being their first in any Group race since the Cherry Hinton. Afterwards Aidan O'Brien admitted they had not been firing on all cylinders, but added that he had lately been seeing signs of revival.
One or two of his young colts certainly caught the eye at the St Leger meeting. One Great Cat could still develop into a top three-year-old after circling the field and finishing third in the Champagne Stakes, while Achilles Of Troy also overcame traffic before finishing best in the valuable sales race.
This colt's maiden success at Newmarket in May was so impressive that it seems hard to believe he could return for the Shadwell Middle Park Stakes without having won since. While Achilles Of Troy (3.15) had clearly lost his way, his Doncaster performance suggests that he is back on track now and he can make the necessary improvement to give Murtagh a Group One double.
Though Godolphin is unrepresented in either race, the stable is making an overdue contribution with its two-year-olds this year. It has excellent prospects in both the juvenile races at Longchamp on Sunday, while Iguazu Falls (next best 1.35) also looks a very exciting prospect. He faces several talented colts in the Somerville Tattersall Stakes, but has implored anyone who has seen his first two runs to stick with him until he is beaten.Reuse content