Between them, hot sunshine and the unbridled décolletages of Ladies' Day on Town Moor might have amply accounted for the state in which Peter Chapple-Hyam found himself before racing here at Doncaster yesterday. But the true source of his perspiration was easy to identify when a tall, sleek colt by Montjeu entered the parade ring before the opener.
Here, then, was Coordinated Cut – an animal reputedly competent to give fresh momentum to Chapple-Hyam's topsy-turvy career, two years after Authorized. In fact, Coordinated Cut arrived for his racecourse debut as one of the early favourites for next year's Investec Derby.
No matter what he has been doing to draw attention to himself on the gallops, his backers could hardly have had their ambitions placed in more reproving perspective than by the shock news, four hours earlier, that Age Of Aquarius had not been declared for the Ladbrokes St Leger tomorrow. The ante-post favourite is thought to have pulled muscles in his back during exercise, and his jockey Johnny Murtagh will now switch to the colt's stablemate Changingoftheguard. It can be hazardous to back a Classic favourite two days before a race, never mind nine months previously.
Certainly, Coordinated Cut has a good deal of presence, for a colt still so physically callow. But those who backed him at odds-on here must have been sweating no less freely than his trainer once the race got under way. He was soon off the bridle, and it took all the familiar tenacity of Kieren Fallon to coax him into the lead approaching the furlong pole, after which he needed straightening and driving out to win by a little over a length.
Fallon was wearing the silks of Lawrie Inman, who has made some fast bucks in the City – he is still only 27 – and will also be represented in the St Leger itself by Monitor Closely. "I was more nervous today than I will be on Saturday," Chapple-Hyam professed. "I believe in this horse. He's going to be very good, I promise you. He's just a baby, wasn't ready for this at all – I should probably have given him another three or four weeks. He's very weak, and he would need a fast pace as well, because he's going to want a mile and a half. I will probably forget to put him in the [2,000] Guineas."
Fallon attributed the colt's lack of fluency to sloth sooner than inexperience. "He's so laid-back," he said. "And sometimes, when you switch a horse off, it can be hard to switch them back on again. He has a great attitude, and when you get a Montjeu with that type of temperament, they're usually pretty good."
Should his trainer see the requisite physical development in the meantime, Coordinated Cut will return here for the Racing Post Trophy next month. As it is, he remains no better than 20-1 for the Derby, and 16-1 in places.
Today Fallon rides a filly in the DFS May Hill Stakes whose Classic odds seem more preposterous still. Seta was undeniably impressive in her maiden at Newmarket, and the placed horses have both won in the meantime, but she is already as short as 6-1 with the sponsors for the Stan James 1,000 Guineas.
Again, you do not have to look far for caveats. Rainbow View started odds-on for the Guineas, after her impressive success in this race last year, but only won her first race of the year last Saturday. Then there was Fantasia, a stablemate of Seta who herself looked a brilliant prospect before disappointing in two French Classics.
She was then given a break by Luca Cumani, and made a smooth resumption yesterday in the JRA Sceptre Stakes – Fallon's eighth winner in a week since his comeback. "Seven furlongs is a bit sharp for her, and she will step up to a mile in the Sun Chariot Stakes next time," Cumani said. "She has thrived over the past few weeks, and Kieren said that she fell asleep early but was really picking up in the finish. She was unsettled in Chantilly, very cross, wouldn't eat or drink, which was out of character – she's usually very placid."
Cumani's next observation seemed especially pertinent with Seta in mind. "Two-year-olds get hyped to the stars every year," he remarked. "Maybe Fantasia hasn't lived up to everything that was being hoped for last year – but the season isn't over yet."
As for Seta, he acknowledged she has long seemed full of potential and should go well today. "But she has only won an ordinary maiden in a not particularly fast time," he emphasised. "It's ludicrous to see her quoted at odds like that for a race that, to me, might as well be 10 years away."
Turf account: Chris McGrath
King's Icon (9.10 Wolverhampton) Has already finished second here twice in the past eight days, but is worth one more chance off the same mark, being no less effective over this trip, and having successively finished clear of the pack against well treated rivals.
Jadalee (6.40 Wolverhampton) Deserves another chance after a dramatic performance at Kempton the other day, well clear on the turn but collared close home, the leading pair no fewer than 12 lengths ahead of the third. Sixth in the St Leger in his youth, he is palpably well treated now.
One to watch
Haajes (J Balding) has been competitive off higher marks in the past and, second on his two previous starts, looked poised to get involved on his return from a break at Doncaster on Wednesday only to run into traffic throughout the final 2f.
Where the money's going
Mawatheeq is 14-1 from 20-1 with the Tote Cambridgeshire sponsors after his success at Doncaster yesterday.