For many at Newmarket today, even 35 thoroughbreds disputing one of the most venerable prizes in the calendar cannot begin to match the spectacle promised before racing has even begun. At around 1pm, in what is likely to prove his penultimate public appearance, Frankel will be escorted by two stablemates in a gallop over the same nine furlongs as the Betfred Cambridgeshire Handicap. To state that some would go home satisfied, as the unbeaten champion is led away, represents no affront to the fields assembling for two Group One races in the meantime. It is just a pity that his one remaining start, at Ascot in three weeks, should already seem certain to prove an equivalent procession.
Having declined the challenge of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe or Breeders' Cup, Sir Henry Cecil will be reminded that horseracing is supposed to be an international sport in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes. Of the half-dozen lining up against his own pair, Elusive Kate has run abroad in six of her last seven starts; Siyouma is trained in France but makes her second visit to Newmarket this season; Up arrives from Ireland with a CV that includes two trips to the United States and second place in a French Classic; the other Irish filly, La Collina, finished fifth in the 1,000 Guineas over this course in the spring; Gamilati spent the winter racing in Dubai; and Laugh Out Loud's last three runs have been at Chantilly, Ascot and Leopardstown.
Then we come to Cecil's fillies. Chachamaidee waited until her 20th start, last month, to venture overseas – and promptly won her first Group One prize, awarded the Matron Stakes by the Leopardstown stewards. The irony should be lost on few, then, were Cecil to beat the lot of them with Beauty Parlour (3.00). A daughter of the Japanese champion Deep Impact, she has been exported to Warren Place after a light career in her native France. Cecil might well wonder why anyone bothers looking for trouble abroad, if their best horses end up coming to your door.
The Wildenstein family have not always been the most restful of patrons, and left Cecil himself back in 1985. But they attributed the removal of a dozen juveniles to Luca Cumani, along with two more seasoned fillies to Cecil, to a desire to mirror the international complexion of other stables. Certainly, no criticism was implied of Elie Lellouche, who trained Beauty Parlour to win four of her first five races, and it is thought significant that the family have grievances with the French authorities in other spheres. One way or another, this is a top-class filly in the best of hands and can bring some overdue lustre to the Classic generation today. She did not quite get home over the longer trip, when beaten for the first time in the Prix de Diane, but exuded quality even then.
The other Group One, the Jaguar Cars Cheveley Park Stakes, is also confined to fillies. Many of these will be tapering off after a busy first campaign, but Maureen (2.25) is unfortunate not to remain unbeaten in three starts and comes here fresh.
Cecil has an interesting candidate for the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes, but Al Waab is only one of several likely to improve for a decent test at this trip. Afonso De Sousa (1.55) could be value, having promised to profit from his first experience outside maiden company when rallying at York last time. He could be a different proposition, switched off and ridden for a turn of foot.
As for the Cambridgeshire, it looks as hopelessly competitive as ever, with a couple of younger horses with Group potential trying to match the know-how of more experienced rivals. Start Right (3.40) belongs to the latter category and, having caught the eye in traffic last time, can finally justify the repeated impression that he is more than equal to this kind of mark. Odds of 33-1 look too good to resist.
His owners, Godolphin, duly picked up the big race on yesterday's card after the lameness of Winsili reduced opposition to Certify in the Shadwell Fillies' Mile to just five. The odds-on favourite lacked early rhythm but picked up smartly when the tempo picked up, two furlongs out, rolling four and a half lengths clear of Roz. Coral halved Certify's odds for the Qipco 1,000 Guineas, back over course and distance next May, to 6-1.
The Turf Account
Chris McGrath's nap
Start Right (3.40 Newmarket)
Marshgate Lane (5.25 Newmarket)