Six degrees of frost separated him from the scene of his latest triumph today morning, not to mention 6,000 miles, but Ed Dunlop none the less remained aglow with the sunshine that had illuminated the success of Red Cadeaux on Sunday. For he would be within his rights, surveying the relatively brief history of international racing, to wonder whether any other trainer has a record quite to match his own.
Having come within "three pixels" of landing a first Melbourne Cup for Britain last year, Red Cadeaux finally made his Group One breakthrough in the Hong Kong Vase. That took his trainer's record at Sha Tin to three winners from four starters, Snow Fairy and Ouija Board both having added lucrative prizes there to their respective wins in Japan and at the Breeders' Cup. Each of those fillies also won the Oaks at Epsom, of course, but Dunlop has now ventured abroad for 17 of his 24 Group One wins.
A stall with heat lamps awaits Red Cadeaux back at Newmarket tomorrow, and he could proceed to Dubai in March if wintering well. If so, Dunlop will be able to rely on a system of remote control that almost evokes the past efficiencies of Empire. "You need the right horse, and the right staff," he said. "That's a very easy thing to say. But it does seem clear that we have exemplary people managing these horses, headed by Robin Trevor-Jones. He has been to all these places now, and every one is different – every track, every surface."
Almost by definition, top-class horses have the necessary constitution for travel, typically achieving their status by absorbing their work so robustly. "But when we took Snow Fairy to Japan the first time we couldn't really have a clue how she would cope," Dunlop said. "Yes, she had run in Ireland and France but once you go eight hours on a plane you're entering different territory. Red Cadeaux spent nine weeks in the southern hemisphere and I must say he absolutely loved it. For some reason, travel sickness seems more prevalent in Hong Kong, and two European horses went down this year. But there are things we do, to try to prevent it, and judging from the way it has worked so far I suppose I'd better keep those to myself!"
Both risk and reward soar when the plane leaves the ground. "In vulgar fashion, I'm afraid the prize-money makes it a bit of a no-brainer," Dunlop said. "Red Cadeaux has won nearly £1m this year, 85 per cent of it abroad. It's just not possible to do that with a horse like him in Europe. The rewards can be immense – if you have the right horse, and you get a bit of luck. And we've had that, with all these horses, in owners who were ready to keep them in training, and be so supportive of what we were trying to do. That's a huge consideration. It can be very expensive to go somewhere like Melbourne, hypothetically to finish last."
Not every client relationship is quite so smooth, even with a source of as much joy as Kauto Star, who left trainer Paul Nicholls' stables today for a projected new career in dressage. Several of the retired champion chaser's handlers doubt his eligibility, but his owner, Clive Smith, has evidently been minded to reiterate that Kauto Star remains his own property. Nicholls did not disguise his dismay. "Clive announced that he had spoken to experts about the horse's future," the trainer said in his Betfair blog. "But [he] failed to consult and listen properly to the team that had looked after Kauto Star the past nine years. That really upset us."
Chris McGrath's Nap
Any Given Dream (3.00 Lingfield) Much less exposed than most of these and freshened up since failing to build on a promising handicap debut last time.
Temple Road (5.45 Kempton) Few miles on the clock and shaped well on his return from a lay-off last time.