Of all the courses that stage eliminators for the Derby and Oaks, Lingfield is the one that generally provides the best facsimile of the tricky rollercoaster contours encountered in the premier Classics. Yesterday, however, the Surrey track provided a test that was somewhat "Epsom lite" after waterlogging prompted the trials' switch from the turf course to the less demanding all-weather track.
But both winners, Main Sequence and Vow, will have learned plenty, and both booked themselves a run in next month's main events.
In the former's case, it will be as a 20-1 outsider, the hot Derby favourite Camelot having set a standard in winning the 2,000 Guineas stern enough to remain unchallenged, even by an unbeaten upwardly mobile type. Main Sequence showed a sharp turn of foot heading for home to catch Shantaram and a good attitude, despite a degree of tail-swishing, to take his record to four from four by threequarters of a length.
"He's earned his place now," said trainer David Lanigan, who has moved this season to Lambourn from Newmarket. "He's in the French Derby as well, but I think Epsom will be the plan."
Main Sequence, who stepped up from handicap company to yesterday's Grade 3 win, was ridden by Ted Durcan. "He helps himself by switching off and relaxing," he said of the US-bred Niarchos Family colourbearer. "He's a horse who is progressing and he'll get a mile and a half standing on his head."
The filly Vow made more of an impression on the Oaks market as she overcame inexperience to run out a clear-cut winner yesterday, only her second outing after a maiden win three weeks previously.
Rebalanced by Johnny Murtagh after she wavered right, then left as she hit the front, the daughter of Motivator readily surged three and a quarter lengths clear of Colima and is now as short as 5-1, in a list headed by Camelot's Aidan O'Brein stablemate Kissed, to give her trainer William Haggas back to back Oaks, after Dancing Rain.
Vow runs for the up-market Highclere Racing syndicate that owns Derby second favourite Bonfire, due to have his Epsom prep in Thursday's Dante Stakes at York.
The pecking order among the Classic generation undergoes further examination this afternoon in Ireland, where another Ballydoyle inmate, Wrote, will start favourite for the Derby Trial at Leopardstown, and in France, where the local versions of the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas are staged at Longchamp.
The best horse in these parts, unbeaten four-year-old Frankel, warmed up on the Rowley Mile yesterday for his seasonal debut in the Lockinge Stakes on Saturday at Newbury, where he will bid to take his unbeaten run to 10. The southern hemisphere's superstar, Black Caviar, took hers to 21 in Morphetville, South Australia, yesterday, coasting home by a length on a tight rein in a six-furlong Group 1 contest, after which her trainer Peter Moody confirmed that she would run in next month's Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.