Family drawn by British beauty
The Wildensteins have a long history of success and controversy on turf
A day that sealed one powerful new partnership, here on the July Course, was still more remarkable for a sensational reunion on the other side of town, at Warren Place.
For Sir Henry Cecil, who trained so many top horses for the Wildenstein family 30 years ago, has welcomed back his former patrons as a presumed dividend of their differences with the new French government.
And the two fillies they have sent him include none other than Beauty Parlour, brilliant winner of the French 1,000 Guineas in May.
The Wildensteins, who made their fortune in fine art, have a long history of both success and controversy on the turf. But it is understood they have no grievance with Elie Lellouche, for whom Beauty Parlour suffered her first defeat when second in the Prix de Diane at Chantilly last month. The family is instead thought to be renewing a link with British racing – largely dormant since the mid-1980s – on account of tax and other disputes in France. They have also sent a dozen juveniles to Newmarket, to be trained by Luca Cumani.
In a statement, however, they confined themselves to stating a desire to regain a more diverse profile. "Considering its ambitions, and following the example of other major French stables, the Wildenstein stable in fact wanted to give itself a more international calibre," it said. "Beauty Parlour will be trained by Sir Henry Cecil because of the long history that unites this stable with this trainer."
Cecil did train Rolly Polly to win the Fred Darling Stakes for the family in 2001, but horses such as All Along, Buckskin, Hello Gorgeous and Simply Great are associated with a pomp he has only recently begun to retrieve. For Cumani, meanwhile, the new Wildenstein link potentially restores the elite quality he has craved since the Aga Khan and Sheikh Mohammed supported his stable.
As for the link consummated on the track itself, it would seem that some trainers can be a little too resourceful for their own good. Over the decades, Richard Hannon has so excelled with yearlings bought in the middle market, or lower, that it has taken an eternity for the biggest investors in the game to give him a chance. In the evening of his career, however, the champion trainer now finds himself in charge of 11 juveniles from Sheikh Hamdan. And if he is never going to coerce some of their names through his Wiltshire larynx, he plainly feels very much at home with them in every other respect.
Alhebayeb's success in the TNT July Stakes here yesterday was Hannon's first at Group level for his new patron – and also took the other champion who has joined Sheikh Hamdan's team, Paul Hanagan, past a similar milestone.
William and John Gosden meanwhile shared yet another good win with Shantaram in the Bahrain Trophy. They won this race with Masked Marvel en route to the Ladbrokes St Leger last year, and Doncaster is also on Shantaram's agenda.
Mindful of the likely presence of Camelot, the sponsors offer 14-1. "He's in the Voltigeur at York and ought to go there first, as he's the type that needs racing and educating," Gosden said. "He's probably the biggest horse in the yard, and it's taken him time to mature."
If all the talk in Newmarket last night was about another top French filly, the big race today features one dignified by no less a trainer than Andre Fabre as the best of her sex he has trained. Golden Lilac is a corresponding price for Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes, however, and the forecast rain may yet dull her brilliance. At 16-1 Alanza (3.0) could represent a value alternative, each way.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Marshgate Lane (4.10 Newmarket) Both Godolphin stables are in top gear now and this well-bred colt shaped with loads of promise against a subsequent winner on his debut here, the pair well clear.
Perfect Step (1.20 Newmarket) Looks to have been indulged by the handicapper, allowed to run off the same mark as when second in the soft at Ascot last time.
One to watch
Burning Dawn (David Brown) quic-kened into the lead on debut at Doncaster but was just worried out of it.
Where the money's going
Media Hype is 8-1 from 10-1 with William Hill for the John Smith's Cup at York tomorrow.
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