Elzaam can get back on fast track at Newmarket

Guineas outsiders and Cecil's Derby dark horse Midsummer Sun on trial as Craven meeting opens

Not a moment too soon, for many who follow the Turf, Newmarket offers everyone a fresh start today. Since the heartbreak of Aintree, the sport has spent four days examining its conscience, while doing its best not to manifest undue irritation with some highly emotive criticism. At the best of times, the Craven meeting introduces a wholesome change of tempo. This year, for all that the show goes on at Cheltenham over the next two days, all passion for jumping will just about be spent.

Admittedly, the new Flat season will only reach top gear with the reappearance of Frankel at Newbury on Saturday. This colt so bestrides the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, now just 17 days away, that the Classic trials staged at his home racecourse will in the meantime seem mere skirmishes. The Craven Stakes itself will tomorrow be contested by just half a dozen runners; likewise, the Blue Square EBF Free Handicap on today's card. The Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes, in turn, faithfully reflects the baffling collective aspect of those fillies preparing for the 1,000 Guineas, and perhaps the most instructive race of the day will instead be the Feilden Stakes, which seems likely to volunteer some new colour for the Investec Derby picture.

There are some, true, who will tell you that the most feasible Epsom colt on show today will instead be found in the maiden that follows. Midsummer Sun, a half-brother to Midday and stablemate of Frankel, has been drawing plenty of attention to himself on the gallops and was recently supplemented to the Derby.

It looks highly significant, incidentally, that Mahmood Al Zarooni's runners on the card, including Ocean War in this race, are ridden by the rising star Mickaël Barzalona. Since last season, the French teenager has announced himself on the big stage with a series of wins in the Godolphin silks in Dubai. Al Zarooni's principal jockey last season, Ahmed Ajtebi, is banished to Kempton for two rides this evening, unmistakably suggesting Barzalona is being fast-tracked by Sheikh Mohammed.

Barzalona rides Neebras in the latest leg of a lucrative series confined to graduates of Tattersalls Sales, and his chance at the weights is such that his performance will be read as a barometer to the acclimatisation of those Godolphin horses recently flown back from the desert. Neebras impressed with his turn of foot when a close second to Libranno in the July Stakes, but has not been seen since.

It was quite some way back to Elzaam in third that day, but he was perhaps not at his best after a very generous effort at Royal Ascot. He returned a fresh horse in the autumn, running very well on unsuitable ground, and looks the value in the Free Handicap. Pausanias, admittedly, might still be unbeaten but for having been set plenty to do on his final start at Ascot, but he drops back in trip on faster ground.

Pausanias is part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, whose hopes for What A Friend at Aintree were disappointed when he was pulled up. Still, he will acknowledge that others had a far worse day. For the sport, perhaps the best corrective to some of the less informed debate, prompted by the death of two horses in the Grand National, has been to lament relative indifference about the head injuries suffered earlier by young Peter Toole. The jockey, woken from a medically induced coma on Monday night, remains in a critical but stable condition.

You can rest assured that the sport's governing body will be even better equipped to deal robustly with ignorance, inside or outside its boundaries, following confirmation that Mark Johnston has become a director of the British Horseracing Authority. The Middleham trainer has never been diffident in offering his opinion, and it will be interesting to see whether he has any patience with the corporate priority of presenting a united front. Regardless, the sport can hardly fail to benefit from the acuity of a man so familiar with the grass-roots consequences of its financial and political dystopia. Nicholas Jones, seasoned in both the racing and betting industries, is another welcome appointment.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Fulgur (4.45 Newmarket) Significant that Luca Cumani is pitching Fulgur in so deep when he has a feasible rating for valuable handicaps.

Next best

Sing Softly (4.10 Newmarket) Top stable is not hanging around with this one, a winner twice this spring, and her American pedigree suggests she can make fitness count on this faster ground.

One to watch

Mandurah (David Nicholls) Has returned to his old stable with a very tempting mark and shaped well at Thirsk on Saturday, hitting the front before fading over the sixth furlong. Will soon be winning over five.

Where the money's going

Elzaam has been backed from 11-2 to 4-1 with William Hill for the Blue Square Free Handicap at Newmarket today.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz