The final cards on the Epsom Classic table are about to be turned over. So far as the colts are concerned, everybody seems pretty certain that three aces still remain face down, pending the production of World Domination, Carlton House and Seville (who will be ridden by Christophe Soumillon) in the Totesport Dante Stakes tomorrow. Among the fillies, however, something pretty special must emerge from the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York today to surpass the hands already played in trials for the Investec Oaks.
The standard is so far set by one filly who has already won a Classic, and another who looks so arresting that she may yet replace Blue Bunting as favourite, in Wonder Of Wonders. Of just five fillies lining up today, only three hold an Oaks entry. And the shortest in the betting, Arizona Jewel, largely owes that status to her genes and connections, rather than anything substantial she has achieved on the track itself.
She did win a maiden very nicely at Sandown last month, albeit from some essentially unknown quantities. And, closely related to the dam of Frankel, she is under the same supervision at Warren Place, where Henry Cecil has already trained nine Musidora winners. He demonstrably keeps his best filly for this race, and his mastery makes it impossible to know just how far Arizona Jewel might yet progress.
You could, in principle, protest that the superior form already shown by Barefoot Lady makes her better value, at the odds. But the fact is that she, too, requires a leap of faith. In her case, the guesswork concerns her ability to stay an extra two furlongs and 88 yards after finishing fifth to Blue Bunting in the 1,000 Guineas.
Her pedigree is ambiguous, but she has finished so well when trying a seventh and eighth furlong for the first time, on her last two starts, that connections are certainly entitled to have a go. Moreover she had a troubled run at Newmarket, and her fine finish there may not represent the limit of her potential. The big worry must be that an interval of just 10 days gives her little time to recuperate, especially if the distance takes her towards the bottom of the fuel tank.
Joviality will certainly not get home unless settling better, while Amazing Beauty is not thought as talented as Wonder Of Wonders at home at Ballydoyle. All told, with a hot favourite who needs to improve to beat a filly who may not last the trip, only incorrigible gamblers will be getting stuck into Arizona Jewel (2.30).
The other Group race on the card, the Duke Of York Blue Square Stakes, features an overdue first attempt at six furlongs by Delegator, who borders on top-class over a mile but has often looked capable of making his speed tell best in sprints. Unfortunately the Saeed bin Suroor stable has made a really sluggish start to the campaign, and further rain would represent another issue, but Delegator (3.00) goes so well fresh that he may be worth a conservative interest.
The convergence of five debut winners qualifies the juvenile race as probably the best of its type so far this season, while the rest of the card comprises some typically full-blooded York handicaps.
In the two televised by Channel 4, Sirvino (nap 1.30) looks a huge price in the opener while Iceblast (2.0) may prove better value than Shropshire, who acquired top weight by running third to Frankel himself in the Greenham Stakes. Though Iceblast's revised mark leaves him out of the handicap, he will be better suited by the return to this trip.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Sirvino (1.30 York) Unexposed rivals will be priced more on potential than achievement and, assuming his comeback spin has put him straight, odds of 25-1 do no justice to one so effective over both track and conditions.
Gifted Leader (3.35 York) Has been doing well over timber and returns off a rating 1lb lower than when a close second of 19 over course and distance, pulling well clear of the rest.
One to watch
Deacon Blue (James Fanshawe) Will be testing the patience of some after again looking unlucky at Ascot last Saturday, but his comeback at least confirmed he is still progressing and he will surely click soon.
Where the money's going
With So You Think, Await The Dawn and St Nicholas Abbey giving the Aidan O'Brien stable options for other possible targets, Fame And Glory is 7-2 from 5-1 with Paddy Power for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.