With seven Group One races to be run at Longchamp tomorrow and some £1.5m in prize-money on offer domestically today, focus this weekend is firmly on what happens between various sets of white rails.
If that may seem a statement of the bleedin' obvious, it should be remembered that although performances on the track, particularly top-class fare like that in Paris, are racing's public face, they are only one link in a chain that is both sport and industry. And by no means the most lucrative one.
In the Bois de Boulogne tomorrow there is, admittedly, nearly £2m waiting for the winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Europe's most glittering middle-distance crown. But if he is a fashionably bred colt there are greater riches associated with his second career, as a stallion. The 2009 winner Sea The Stars, for instance, retired to stud at a fee of €85,000 and covered 140 mares in his first season. As they say, do the math.
In Newmarket on Tuesday, the factory floor production lines get rolling as those who supply the demand for young racehorses parade their best wares at the classiest equine marketplace in the world. Over three days, the cream of the European commercial yearling crop, two-year-olds of next season, will go under the hammer in the elegant domed Tattersalls sales arena, where more than 550 blueblooded colts and fillies – including some of Sea The Stars' first progeny – should raise £50m for their vendors.
If the auction house needed an advertisement for its graduates, a glance at this season's results would suffice. The catalogue cover boy next week is the 2,000 Guineas and Derby hero, Triple Crown near-hero and likely Arc favourite, Camelot, who cost 525,000 guineas – or £551,250 – in 2010.
The top lot that year was, at 1.2m guineas, this year's Oaks heroine Was, and lower down the leaderboard were the two Irish Guineas winners Power (50,000 guineas) and Samitar (40,000).
Tattersalls, though, have added a further carrot to tempt buyers, and thus help vendors, in the form of two hugely valuable juvenile contests restricted to graduates of the firm's elite auction, each to be run for the fifth time at Newmarket this afternoon.
The races represent something of an anomaly. They are both – one for fillies, one for both sexes – the richest prizes for juveniles in the European calendar. But neither has status in the official pyramid of excellence and so cannot offer the same kudos, so important in a pedigree on any future catalogue pages, as an equivalent Group One event.
For colts in particular, that top-level success is important on a CV. Pedro The Great, for instance, was among the entries for this afternoon's £500,000 contest earlier in the week, but connections are playing a longer game, sending him instead for the less valuable, but Group One-tagged, Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère at Longchamp.
For fillies, there is more room to manoeuvre and two of the four winners – Lillie Langtry in 2009 and Samitar last year – subsequently proved themselves top-class and they at least have deflected any residual accusation of mediocrity being unduly rewarded.
This afternoon, experience and the best form in the filly race is represented by The Gold Cheongsam, last a week ago in the Cheveley Park Stakes after a troubled run, and Graphic Guest.
But the emerging potential of Concise (2.15) makes much appeal and similarly in the open-sex contest, despite the solid credentials of Havana Gold and Ollie Olga, it may be time for Ghurair (2.50), who showed his inexperience at Goodwood last time around but has looked much more the finished article at home since, to step forward.
What they and their contemporaries go on to achieve remains to be seen; they are the future in an ever-rolling wheel of nature. The present is the Arc and as many of Europe's top 12-furlong performers who have escaped injury, illness or the outbreak of disease, plus one from Japan, will be there tomorrow for the great autumn spectacle.
The presence of Camelot and his new rider Frankie Dettori, in his 25th consecutive Arc, have added charisma to this year's edition.
The colt, whose sire Montjeu took the prize 13 years ago, has been handed a favourable low draw (in contrast, his rival at the top of the market, the Japanese champion Orfevre, will start on the wide outside) and his rider is without peer round the tricky course, with its deceptive bends into the home straight.
His Aidan O'Brien stablemate St Nicholas Abbey may be the each-way value, but Camelot can add the great Longchamp race to his Classic wins, outdoing such as Sir Ivor and Nijinsky.
His local counterpart Saonois, a humbly bred bargain buy, one of a job lot who cost around £13,000, is the rags-to-riches tale. But sometimes you do get what you pay for.
Chris McGrath's Nap:
Rhossili Bay (7.50 Wolverhampton)
Nameitwhatyoulike (2.40 Redcar)
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