The spectacle of four horses plunging towards the line together here yesterday seemed to give substance to the suspicion that the present crop of stayers, behind Fame And Glory, are a fairly anonymous bunch. It would be more charitable, however, to acknowledge that they had provided the finish of the week in the Artemis Goodwood Cup, with the official margins given as a head, neck and nose.
First and foremost, it was a gratifying result for Godolphin, whose rival trainers respectively saddled the winner, Opinion Poll, and unlucky runner-up, Lost In The Moment. It was a timely tonic to the whole team, after the horrifying loss of Rewilding last weekend. Indeed, a hairline fracture in a toe obliged Frankie Dettori to disappoint the crowd round the winner's enclosure, unable as a result of his fall from Rewilding to perform his customary flying dismount.
Opinion Poll, who had finished closest of Fame And Glory's pursuers at Royal Ascot, is another feather in the cap of Mahmood Al Zarooni in only his second season. But his former boss, Saeed Bin Suroor, will know that Dettori had gained a decisive advantage on the winner while William Buick was held up repeatedly in traffic on Lost In The Moment.
"The ground was quick enough for Opinion Poll," Dettori said. "But he has lots of courage and is very hard to pass. He's quite lazy, so I couldn't take the chance of going through them, so took him outside and got him going in plenty of time. As it happened, I was there plenty early enough, and he started to put the brakes on but luckily the line was just there for me."
Reaching it first, however, cost him a two-day whip ban. As for Lost In The Moment, the step up from ten furlongs to two miles proved an inspired gamble. He can run in the Betfred Ebor Handicap off an unchanged mark, and is quoted 10-1 by the sponsors.
Blue Bajan and Fox Hunt also closed strongly. The former continues to reiterate the talent of his young trainer, David O'Meara, while Fox Hunt will give the thriving partnership of Mark Johnston and Silvestre De Sousa a big shout in the Ebor, too – albeit he will be 5lbs worse off.
Dettori proceeded to give David Lanigan the biggest win of his career so far in the i-Shares Lillie Langtry Stakes on Meeznah, back to form now after passing the post second in the Oaks last year. The other Group race on the card, the Audi King George Stakes, did little to discourage the view that the standard among common-or-garden Group sprinters remains no better than that of the stayers. Again, however, it would be wrong not to salute the achievements of Kevin Ryan with Masamah, who saw off a series of challenges after breaking sharply. He will now try to give his big-spending owner, Marwan Koukash, a first Group One success in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York next month.
There remains a slim possibility that Frankel will run at that meeting, albeit his trainer appears to be discouraging the idea. The unbeaten champion was reported in fine fettle by Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Khalid Abdullah, after his brilliant win here on Wednesday. Grimthorpe agreed with Sir Henry Cecil that the Juddmonte International Stakes will probably come too soon, and that Frankel remains more likely to be given a break until the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in October. But he stressed that the colt's condition and outlook at home would determine his programme, and did not wish to commit him one way or the other.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Redwood (2.0 Goodwood) Last year's winner is the class act in a field lacking progressive rivals, and made a perfectly acceptable return from a lay-off on unsuitably soft ground at Newmarket last time.
Goldoni (4.20 Goodwood) Nicely bred colt from a flourishing stable looks on a fair mark after his best effort yet over a similar course last time.
One to watch
Red Duke (John Quinn) Remains on the upgrade, judged on the way he travelled when trapped in traffic before snatching third at Goodwood on Wednesday.
Where the money's going
Sagramor is 7-1 from 8-1 with Betfred after scraping into the Totesport Mile today as a reserve.