They also serve who only make up the weight. There were 435 horses running at six of Britain's racecourses yesterday, the majority of them the equivalent of the massed club handicap golfers or village cricketers, likewise out in the bank holiday sunshine, in terms of their athletic talent. But just as the existence of Earl Stonham First XI is essential to that of the first class game, so is a filly like Kate Skate to the Derby favourite. The bottom of the pile is better regarded as a base without which there would not be that tiny, elusive pinnacle of excellence.
Yesterday's foot soldiers would barely impinge on the broader narrative of the season which is now entering one of its most tantalising periods with the countdown to the Derby and Oaks, but they all have a story. For instance, take Kate Skate, winner of the seller at Goodwood.
The Paul Cole-trained two-year-old is a third generation link in a chain that began 15 years ago for her owner-breeder Rob Instone. In 1994 he paid £4,600 at a low-grade bloodstock sale for a filly named Fire Lily, who was quite nicely bred but had proved very moderate in a brief career for Sheikh Mohammed. Her first foal for Instone was Sari, who won twice and went on to produce three winners, Saristar, Genari and Pravda Street, a dead-heat winner at Newmarket last week.
Saristar joined her dam and grand-dam in Instone's quietly successful little nursery and, with Kate Skate, struck at the first time of asking as a mum, adding to the family's value. Her daughter, though, has now left the fold; her dogged win impressed trainer Gay Kelleway enough for her to pay 13,000 guineas at the post-race auction.
Yesterday's richest contest, the £32,000 Zetland Gold Cup, went to a product of a rather more prestigious production line although, presumably, when the Queen sent her blue- blooded mare Fairy Godmother to the top-class Kentucky stallion Kingmambo – his fee at the time was $225,000 – she did not have a handicap at Redcar in mind for the result of the tryst, Kingdom Of Fife.
But a winner is a winner, and this one – his trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, is a past master at nurturing progressive types – may go on to better things, possibly at Royal Ascot next month. The four-year-old was given an exemplary ride by Ryan Moore, who dictated proceedings, wound the pace up on the home turn and powered clear in the straight.
It was the champion jockey's sole ride of the day. Punters took the hint and backed Kingdom Of Fife to 9-4 favourite and HM's loyal subjects gave her horse a rousing, if venal, cheer to the line.
The day's other performer who stood out from the herd was Tranquil Tiger, who took the Listed Festival Stakes at Goodwood on his seasonal debut. The Henry Cecil-trained five-year-old was another to benefit from canny direction from the saddle, this time from Tom Queally, who pinched a five-length lead two furlongs out and reserved enough to last home by a neck.
On the try, try and try again principle both Wensleydale Web, a seven-year-old mare who finally scored at her 24th attempt in a hurdle race at Cartmel, and Queen's Hawk, who gave his trainer, Denis Coakley, his first winner for nearly seven months in the Goodwood opener, deserve a mention in despatches.
Back at the top of the tree, it is far from certain that Again will try for her second Classic in the Oaks. The filly galloped up the betting after winning Sunday's Irish 1,000 Guineas but her trainer, David Wachman, indicated yesterday Epsom may come too soon.
Nap: Le Toreador (3.40 Redcar)
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