Most people have already abandoned the Ladbrokes St Leger to Sea Moon, runaway winner of his trial here on Wednesday. The favourite must still prove his stamina for the extra 572 yards at Doncaster, however, and proceedings yesterday left no doubt that Blue Bunting will be on his case in that regard.
For it was sheer, unadorned staying power that settled the Darley Yorkshire Oaks in favour of the Godolphin filly, who has now won three Group One prizes in four starts this season. In fact, but for an uncharacteristic jockey malfunction, she would probably be going to Town Moor seeking the first fillies' Triple Crown since Oh So Sharp in 1985. Frankie Dettori had largely atoned for his Epsom aberration by since pulling the Irish Oaks out of the fire, and here she reiterated her supremacy among the Classic fillies – at this trip, at any rate – before seeing off an ardent challenge from an older rival in Vita Nova by three-quarters of a length. "She's never going to be flash," Dettori conceded. "But she's very hard to pass."
Admittedly, the way Wonder Of Wonders was travelling early in the straight, as her rivals came off the bridle, nourished the suspicion she could yet obtain higher standing among her generation when conditions restore an emphasis on speed. In what Dettori described as "very gluey" ground, however, Wonder Of Wonders could not pick up and was beaten by nearly four lengths in third. Crystal Capella was next, just ahead of Banimpire, who finally looked ready for a break, off the bridle early. Remembering her acceleration round the Chester turns in May, Wonder Of Wonders looks tailor-made for the Filly and Mare Turf at the Breeders' Cup.
It was his role in the success of Vale Of York at that meeting, a couple of years ago, that persuaded Sheikh Mohammed to promote Saeed bin Suroor's assistant, Mahmood al-Zarooni, to supervise a stable in his own right. And Blue Bunting has handsomely vindicated the sheikh's judgement, continuing to thrive since bringing Godolphin's drought in the early Classics to a surprise end in the 1,000 Guineas.
Blue Bunting is 6-1 for the Leger with the sponsors, behind Sea Moon on 6-4, but Simon Crisford indicated that the sheikh was keeping options open for now. "It's not definite she will run, but quite possible," the Godolphin manager said. "I would definitely say she'd stay the trip. The further she went today, the better she was. She's such a tough filly, so resolute, and when the second came to her, Blue Bunting wasn't having any of it."
The gorgeous Ladies' Day throng – so vast, and so intent on hedonism, that there was a long queue even to enter the crowded champagne lawn – had already admired another arresting female when Best Terms extended her unbeaten record in the Jaguar Cars Lowther Stakes. Somehow sent off at 11-1, despite her success at Royal Ascot last time out, she exploded from the gate under Richard Hughes. Pressed by Fire Lily, she clearly relished the sixth furlong and went away again to score by two lengths, the pair well clear. Richard Hannon Jnr, assistant trainer to his father, said that she would now tackle the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket. "She's tiny," he said. "But she has a massive heart."
A Group One also beckons the winner of the other race confined to fillies, the Galtres Stakes. Beaten off a mark of 70 in the spring, Set To Music is unbeaten in four starts since and here coasted through the field on the bridle. Michael Bell will now aim the Queen's flourishing filly at the Prix Vermeille.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Madam Macie (4.50 York) Long absence should not be an issue, judged on her impressive reappearance last year. Excuses for both subsequent defeats and very few miles on the clock for her rising star trainer.
Green Destiny (3.05 York) Easily pardoned defeat last time, dropped in trip and awkwardly drawn, and his previous performance over course and distance left no doubt that he was ready for this grade.
One to watch
Kanaf (Ed Dunlop) Is going to win a sprint handicap soon judged on his fifth at York on Tuesday, rattling home best of all after finding himself marooned in last place early on.
Where the money's going
Modun is 6-1 from 8-1 with the sponsors for the Betfred Ebor Handicap at York tomorrow, while Blissful Moment (10-1 from 12-1) and Tactician (12-1 from 14-1) are also in demand.