Though John Gosden watched his string exercise this morning on a sun-warmed Warren Hill under a pristine sky, he readily identified a grey cloud ready to thwart his hopes of a first Group One victory of the year. On Friday his charge Elusive Kate will try to better last year's close runner-up spot in the Falmouth Stakes, the season's first clash of the generations for the best female milers, but despite the four-year-old's creditable warm-up fourth in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, she is first choice of neither the bookmakers, the punters nor – seemingly – her trainer.
That position belongs to the three-year-old Sky Lantern, who last month added the Coronation Stakes to her 1,000 Guineas win. "Ours ran a big race against the colts" Gosden said, "and she needed the run, will be better for it and she's tough and strong-minded. But I thought there were two exceptional performances to take from Royal Ascot, and Sky Lantern's was one of them. To win the way she did from her draw was a stupendous effort."
The Falmouth Stakes, the first of two top-level contests at this week's summer festival on Newmarket's July Course, has attracted just five entries, including last year's heroine Giofra from France. "It's a tight elite gathering and will be an exciting tactical affair," added Gosden. "You need a smart turn of foot in a small field and that will favour Sky Lantern. Hughesie [the Richard Hannon-trained steel-coated filly's rider, Richard Hughes] can sit there and pounce late, just what he loves to do."
Gosden's other star pick from the Royal meeting was the Coventry Stakes winner War Command, whose third-placed Ballydoyle stablemate Sir John Hawkins is likely to start favourite for the July Stakes. But the other Group Two contest on the meeting's opening day, the Princess Of Wales's Stakes, has lost its ante-post market leader Dandino, now aiming for next month's American St Leger in Chicago. Universal, Dandino's conqueror earlier in the year, now heads the seven runners.
Newmarket has been the scene this year of two separate drugs scandals. A line may soon be drawn under the affair involving Mahmood al-Zarooni; the disgraced Goldolphin trainer's former assistant Charlie Appleby will meet the sport's licensing committee today with a view to taking over the Moulton Paddocks yard. The British Horseracing Authority report into the positive steroid samples administered by Zarooni is imminent, as is the conclusion of the separate investigation into use of the veterinary product Sungate among the town's trainers.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Kindanyce (2.20 Catterick) Showed enough last time, when drawn badly in a stronger race.
Footstepsintherain (5.10 Yarmouth) Improving type who lost out in a head-bob a week ago.
One to watch
Compensation will soon come the way of Pythagorean (Roger Charlton), only narrowly beaten on Saturday.
Where the money's going
With fast ground likely at Newmarket on Saturday, Paddy Power offer 6-1 against the six-furlong course record of 1:09:51 set by Stravinsky in 1999 being broken by the July Cup winner.