Adjacent to the Hyperion Lawn, commemorating the 1933 Derby winner, Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course now boasts a new amenity, the Frankel Lounge. As recently as May it masqueraded as the plain old Paddock Bar but, refurbished and taken upmarket over the summer, it is now part museum of recent history (in tribute to the champion of champions), part seafood restaurant, a classic combination of surf and turf. At a stroke the innovation seems to have solved the problem of lairy groups of drinkers congregating near the lower paddock bend and frightening the horses.
The crowds are not quite what they were at Newmarket’s spring and autumn course in the days when boom and bust had been abolished and the Rowley Mile was sponsored by NatWest. The autumn schedule is set for more upheaval next year when Future Champions Day, staged on Saturday, will move back six days to the Friday eve of Ascot’s Champions Day.
Of this year’s future champions, War Command, the winner of the Dewhurst Stakes by a length and a quarter from Cable Bay (a yardstick by whose measure War Command is every inch the equal of Miracle Of Medinah), continues to give the impression that his best day may be behind him, with his victory in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. But his trainer, Aidan O’Brien, was quick to deflect doubt. “I’m delighted with the horse as I was very worried about the ground,” he said. “He’s a good-actioned horse and when it was very quick at Ascot, that was what he wanted. There is only one Dewhurst and we had to get him out. I’d say he’s done for the year now and I think he’ll get a mile next season.”
Saturday’s other Group One contest, the Middle Park Stakes, fell to the Kevin Ryan-trained Astaire (a length better than Cable Bay when winning the Gimcrack Stakes at York in August), who made all down the stands rail to hold off his stablemate Hot Streak by half a length.
The performance of Speedfiend, fourth at 100-1, was noteworthy in living up to his gallops reputation – his stable also houses the Group-class fillies Sweet Acclaim and Love In The Desert, whose maiden win in June was followed two days later by a gamble on the debutant Speedfiend from 33-1 to 13-2 on the July Course, where he finished in midfield behind Middle Park also-rans Jallota and Brown Sugar. Most recently Speedfiend had been nailed on the line at Kempton by a high-class newcomer in Mushir, who followed up in the Rockingham Stakes at York on Saturday. There are races to be won with both of them in future.