Trainers of the old school may not be concerned by the way Richard Fahey deals with his horses – though the evidence, for all the obtuseness of the sport's wealthiest patrons, is that they jolly well ought to be. Yesterday, however, Fahey showed that his dealings with the public are just as exemplary.
It is easy to think of a few established trainers who might keep their misgivings to themselves, had a leading Classic contender failed to convince in his work. But yesterday Fahey candidly volunteered his alarm over Wootton Bassett's preparations for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, a fortnight on Saturday.
The unbeaten colt, whose Group One success in France last autumn sealed a breakthrough season for his trainer and jockey, Paul Hanagan, suffered a setback during the winter and Fahey was dismayed by his weariness after a racecourse gallop over the weekend. The Malton trainer now admits him no better than 50-50 to line up at Newmarket.
"There's nothing wrong, but we just might be running out of time," he said. "Hopefully, we're going to get him away again in the next eight or nine days. He's in the French and Irish Guineas as well. The thing is he's got to be 100 per cent. In this modern day you've got to let people know. I might be doing it wrong: in the next eight or nine days I might be 100 per cent happy. But he just took a good blow the other day. He missed groundwork, you can't replace that."
Victor Chandler responded by making Frankel a still hotter favourite (4-6 from 4-5) for the Guineas. Frankel has apparently been working with undiminished gusto this spring, and remains on course for his rehearsal in the Totesport Greenham Stakes at Newbury on Saturday. So few are prepared to take him on, in fact, that the race was reopened yesterday. The first in a series of Classic trials will be staged on Newmarket's first card of the season tomorrow. Sing Softly, already winner of two races for Ballydoyle this spring, is 9-4 favourite with William Hill for the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes.
Wootton Bassett is not the only elite juvenile whose connections are warning he may drop out of the Guineas. Dream Ahead's trainer, David Simcock, yesterday reiterated that he would only run on good ground. If conditions are any faster, he will wait for the equivalent in France or Ireland.
* Chris McGrath's Nap
Fadhaa (4.20 Wolverhampton)
Out of a half-sister to Sakhee and caught the eye on his debut at Doncaster last autumn, a fine specimen who made encouraging ground before tiring to finish just behind the principals.
* Next best
My Valley (3.30 Folkestone)
Rejuvenated on the all-weather, beating the rest comfortably when bumping into a well handicapped one last time. Form on fast turf in her younger days.
* One to watch
Wyse Hill Teabags (Jim Goldie) proved well treated on his handicap debut at Aintree on Thursday, hampered at a critical stage and rallying for a close third.
* Where the money's going
The Minack is 7-1 from 9-1 with the sponsors for the Coral Scottish National at Ayr on Saturday.