Whether trends are to be avoided or followed is a moot point and one which has split layers and punters ahead of the weekend's prestige day at Newmarket. On the positive side, Jim Bolger has trained the last three winners of the Dewhurst Stakes and his entry for Saturday, Chabal, is as short as 7-4 favourite to give him a four-timer. From a negative point of view, only 15 three-year-olds have won post-war runnings of the Cesarewitch, and none for 11 years, yet a horse of that generation, Darley Sun, is a firm market leader for the marathon at 5-1.
But even if Chabal does follow the hoofprints of Intense Focus, New Approach and Teofilo in the Dewhurst, it will be his swan-song for the shrewd master of Glebe House. The son of Galileo, whose two runs to date have been for Chryss O'Reilly, is to join Godolphin after the Group 1 contest, yet another of Sheikh Mohammed's high-profile in-raining recruits to his elite team. His dirhams have already secured Kingsfort, who defeated Chabal narrowly in last month's National Stakes at the Curragh.
"Chabal will run for his current connections on Saturday," confirmed Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford last night. "He's an interesting horse for next season. It looks a competitive Dewhurst and we'll see how it goes before making any plans for him."
Godolphin trainer Saeed Bin Suroor has three Dewhurst entries, Buzzword, Poet's Voice and Sunday's Gran Criterium runner-up Vale Of York. "We'll decide about them later in the week," added Crisford.
Chabal's perceived chief rivals in the race likely to shape the winter market for the 2,000 Guineas are Arcano, whose defeat of Special Duty in the Prix Morny was made to look better by the filly's Cheveley Park Stakes success, and Steinbeck, the most likely Ballydoyle contender from six entries and prominent in the 2,000 Guineas betting despite his absence since winning on his debut back in May. "We're very happy with his recent work," said trainer Aidan O'Brien yesterday.
That Darley Sun has made the cut for the Cesarewitch is a matter of relief for both his supporters and his trainer David Simcock. The Tiger Hill colt has done nothing but improve this season with time and distance; after a 10-length rout of the opposition in the two-mile Brown Jack Stakes at Ascot in July, he was caught only in the last strides by Askar Tau when he stepped up to Saturday's two and a quarter mile trip and to group company in the Doncaster Cup.
Saturday's £160,000 handicap has a safety limit of 34; at this stage Darley Sun is 31st on the list with a burden of just 7st 11lb, and apprentice Andrea Atzeni due to ride him for the first time. Recent Ascot winner Electrolyser, set to carry 8st 13lb, is second choice in the betting at 8-1.
The last three-year-old winner was Spirit Of Love, who turned the contest into a procession with a nine-length victory; the last to be placed was actually Askar Tau, fourth last year. "They don't have a great record," said Simcock, one of Newmarket's upwardly-mobile trainers, "but I'm glad ours got in. He's in good order; he worked very well over a mile on Saturday and will have another blow on Wednesday. He's progressive and stays very well and the ground on Saturday should be perfect for him."
The market for next month's Breeders' Cup Turf was thrown into some turmoil yesterday as the rumour mill ground out ill-tidings about last year's winner Conduit, fourth to Sea The Stars in the Arc on his most recent appearance, with one panicked firm suspending betting.
By the close of play, the colt's trainer Sir Michael Stoute had issued a soothing bulletin. "We are not aware of any problems with Conduit," he said. "He was a bit colicky on Friday night. But it has settled down, and he has cantered since."
Turf account: Sue Montgomery
Hafawa (3.10 Leicester)
Should be well suited by today's step-up in distance and easing ground and can get her progress back on track after a luckless narrow defeat last time.
Puy d'Arnac (4.20 Newcastle)
Proven in soft ground and over today's demanding distance, and despite going steadily back up the ratings after two recent victories still looks fairly treated, having twice won off a higher mark.
One to watch
No yearling cost more at a British auction last year than Berling (J Dunlop), who had a price tag of more than £650,000. He carries the colours of Abba man Benny Andersson, but money, money, money is not necessarily the name of the game; to date the colt has shown he is no superstar. Still, after a respectable effort at Goodwood on Sunday, he looks the type to be of interest in nurseries.
Chris McGrath's Nap
The Bear (3.20, Newcastle).