After bread and water at York, only without the bread, racing ends the week with a feast to satisfy gourmets and gourmands alike. Two Group One races find sanctuary from the saturated Knavesmire at Newmarket this afternoon, on good to firm ground no less, so extending an eye-watering card to 11 races. Other big prizes have meanwhile found their way to Newbury, while tomorrow New Approach and Duke Of Marmalade meet in the rescheduled Juddmonte International Stakes at Newmarket. It almost seems too much to digest all at once.
The most delectable dish on the menu is perhaps the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, which now features the brilliant Irish filly, Lush Lashes. She would never have made this fresh attempt at a mile and a half in testing ground, at York, but her stamina may not be examined too thoroughly in these conditions – not least because jockeys always seem intimidated by the distant horizons of Newmarket.
Admittedly she seemed to flatten out over this distance in the Oaks, but she was exposed to an excessive pace that day. Her subsequent performances at Royal Ascot and Goodwood, where she was excruciatingly unlucky, leave no doubt that she has an awful lot of speed. But she seems to have been created from the same mould as her stablemate, New Approach, matching class with versatility. Lush Lashes (Newmarket 2.05) can outpace Michita, who has also shown her true colours since disappointing at Epsom.
Equiano, Spain's first Royal Ascot winner, makes his debut for Barry Hills in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes. Dandy Man is tempting as always, having been marooned by the draw when not far behind Equiano at Ascot, but made his own bad luck when missing a golden opportunity at Goodwood last time. Kingsgate Native took advantage of a generous weight concession to juveniles last year, and Percolator could well do the same this time. But there is another young filly in the field receiving all the same allowances, and she looks too big at 50-1.
Though beaten at odds-on only last week, Shryl (Newmarket 3.05) failed to settle in a steadily run race on soft going, and had previously been the only filly to make up ground when beaten just a neck in the Queen Mary Stakes. With the future in mind, perhaps the most interesting contest of the day is the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes, which resurfaces at Newbury. Art Connoisseur was a striking winner of the Coventry Stakes but subsequently had his ears boxed, rather unceremoniously, by Mastercraftsman in Ireland. Now he meets one of the summer's most exciting maiden winners in Marine Boy, who won by seven lengths over this course and distance earlier in the month. The second has won since and his remarkable young trainer, Tom Dascombe, considered this colt in a different parish from the juveniles who have already won him Pattern races this season. Art Connoisseur has a big advantage in experience, but Marine Boy (Newbury 1.45) looks a natural.
At the curiously dogmatic insistence of Channel 4, the races salvaged from York also include the Ebor, now christened the Totesport Newburgh Handicap. Nobody will be more grateful than Sir Mark Prescott, who has doubtless primed Wicked Daze (Newbury 3.25) to run for his life. Though he looked rather dour when returning from a break to win over two miles at Ascot, Wicked Daze was idling in front and it seems safe to assume that he has the speed to cope with this drop in distance.
This is another race to have been radically altered by its transfer. Mad Rush was favourite when declarations were first made on heavy ground at York, but now runs in a Group Two race at Deauville on Sunday while his trainer, Luca Cumani, relies on Bauer instead.
But the week's most startling change of plan concerns Big Brown, the Kentucky Derby winner. So disappointing in the Belmont Stakes, he has since made rather heavy weather of winning the Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park. Now he will be returning to New Jersey for a race on turf on 13 September, his connections having apparently decided that grass represents a suitable preparation for his first start on a synthetic surface, in the Breeders' Cup Classic. This is not quite as wild a strategy as it may seem, in that Big Brown won his first ever race, at Saratoga last year, on turf – by the small matter of 11 lengths.
* Tonight's meeting at Hamilton is subject to a 7.00am inspection. Today's Newcastle fixture was abandoned yesterday and there will be an inspection there tomorrow at 8.00am for Monday's card.
Nap: Midnight Cruiser
NB: Wicked Daze