By dividing its calendar between the first and final weeks of the season, the Rowley Mile rather hitches its reputation to those chill winds that notoriously seem to arrive uninterrupted from the Steppes. Certainly the few hardy souls gathered here yesterday could hardly deny that the Champion Stakes, however fortuitously, had been blessed by finer weather at its new Ascot home last weekend. But they could also share a grateful illusion that the clouds hanging over the Turf had been blown away, if only for the duration of a card wholly oriented to a brighter future.
Seven of the eight races were confined to juveniles, many of whom arrived with the world at their feet – unraced, that is to say, and still trading on the genes of champions. For most trainers, a familiar process of disenchantment was soon underway. But a happy few went home wondering quite how far their new stars might climb.
Take the very first of the five maiden winners. Diala had been last off the bridle against a subsequent Group One winner, Lyric Of Light, on her debut and quickened four lengths clear this time. William Haggas might yet turn her out again for a listed race at his local track's remaining fixture. "Or we might call it a day," he said. "She's going to be a nice filly next year. How far will she get? A mile, anyway – and that'll do."
If there seemed a meaning glint in his eye, then Paddy Power took note, introducing Diala at 25-1 for the Qipco 1,000 Guineas. Haggas is already looking forward to 2012 with one of his established stars, Green Destiny, who closed nicely into midfield in the big race at Ascot last weekend. "He'll definitely stay in training, and we're going to have a ball," Haggas said. "I have to talk to the owners but they're keen on the [Dubai] World Cup, and I can see us going straight there. He ran really well on Saturday, on ground that was too fast for him."
There was plenty of talk about Lyric Of Light's stablemate, Silent Moment, later on the card – but ultimately it was the other Godolphin runner, a fluent Street Cry colt named Kiz Kulesi, who ran out a taking winner. Remarkably, the second division of that race was likewise won by Ahmed Ajtebi, wearing the white cap on a 20-1 shot, with Frankie Dettori third on the favourite.
On the face of it, Lord Of the Shadows retains less scope for progress after winning the conditions race on his eighth start. But the future was very much the theme, even so, with Richard Hannon Jr – here representing his father – at last expected to take over the champion trainer's licence next season. While Hannon Jr cheerfully declined to confirm the imminent accession, he conspicuously failed to deny it.
In the bracing air, it was briefly possible to forget all about the sport's brooding horizons – whether the latest corruption case, which involves four journeyman riders and finally gets under way today, or the row between riders and regulators over the whip. But the two most famous jockeys in Britain kept up the pressure, disowning the support they had initially appeared to offer in the press release detailing changes to the definition and punishment of whip offences. In a statement, Frankie Dettori and Tony McCoy declared: "In hindsight, we would like to have given more thought and consideration to the new rules before commenting. We didn't give them properly informed approval, and really do wish the BHA would stop saying that we did."
McCoy, along with eight others, had earlier lost an appeal against the ten-day suspensions they earned for ignoring a void-race flag at Wetherby last week.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Vimiero (6.10 Wolverhampton) Overdue a change of luck after another near-miss at Windsor on Monday, and the extra distance today can do the trick provided he has absorbed that effort.
State Senator (7.10 Wolverhampton) Good middle-distance pedigree and given an indulgent mark after showing ability over inadequate trips, keeping on best behind a sharper one at Leicester last time.
One to watch
Forgotten Hero (Charles Hills) made an eye-catching debut when third behind a fancied stablemate at Newmarket yesterday, going well in rear when hampered but really taking off when in the clear.
Where the money's going
Camelot is in continued demand for the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday, now 5-4 from 6-4 with Coral, but there has also been interest in Zip Top from 12-1 to 10-1.