It would be ungracious to dismiss outright any five-length winner of a trial over course and distance, but the fact remains that yesterday Trumpet Major could only earn himself a place in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas reckoning between two colts not yet certain to line up, and one who definitely will not.
The latter is his own stablemate, Harbour Watch, ranked much the superior at home but sidelined after a setback. Two other absent friends, however, remain higher in the esteem of the bookmakers: the unbeaten Camelot, who will be very short odds indeed for the Guineas once his participation is confirmed; and Most Improved, hot favourite for the Novae Craven Stakes here when found to be lame yesterday morning. Brian Meehan, his trainer, advises that his Guineas participation must now be "open to question".
Without him, it suddenly looked a very open race – if not, it must be said, quite so exciting. Most Improved would have to be every bit as good as they say at Manton, however, to see off Trumpet Major with anything like the same emphasis as the winner did those that showed up. Admittedly he did drift awkwardly right, in the Dip, but he had already broken decisively clear.
Richard Hannon Jr, who had also saddled the winner of the fillies' trial the previous day, was further gratified to see another of his runners, Crius, hold on to second after making the running along the stands rail. Eastern Sun was next, also prominent throughout up the middle.
All those graduating from maidens, though, disappointed in varying degrees – not least Forgotten Hero, who dropped right out after refusing to settle early. It is worth noting that Charlie Hills has also been disappointed by one or two of his other runners here.
Trumpet Major, fifth in the Dewhurst here last autumn, is now as short as 6-1 for the Guineas with Coral, but twice those odds with Ladbrokes, who make Camelot 6-4. The favourite can be backed at 9-4 elsewhere. Most Improved remains no better than 7-1, while Top Offer is the other market protagonist, 6-1 in places, pending his scheduled reappearance at Newbury tomorrow. Roger Charlton, his trainer, is keen to give Top Offer more experience but admits that further rain might force him to withdraw what he describes as "an exceptionally good-moving horse".
However Trumpet Major fares, he warrants celebration as a classic Hannon project. Arakan has made a good start at stud – thanks in part to this same outfit, through Dick Turpin – but plenty must have overlooked his son at just €20,000 (£18,000) as a yearling. He won the Champagne Stakes at two and, while not an imposing animal, Trumpet Major looks entitled to a podium finish back here a fortnight tomorrow.
"I thought for a moment he was going to run horrible," Hannon admitted. "I wasn't sure about the ground after the rain. But once Ryan [Moore] got after him, he picked up and did it well. I must admit I'm surprised he could do that, under a [3lb] penalty, and I'm sure he'll improve."
Hannon had already won another big prize – the latest in the Tattersalls Millions series – through Rougemont, not to mention a juvenile fillies' maiden with Tassel. Pat Dobbs, Rougemont's jockey, had won the Nell Gwyn the previous day and is certainly making the most of his opportunities during Richards Hughes's suspension.
The veteran Twice Over looked well in for his comeback in the Earl of Sefton Stakes, but could overcome Questioning in neither a photo finish nor a lengthy stewards' inquiry. It was good to see him exhibit undiminished enthusiasm at the age of seven, however, and he is likely to go for the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown next month.
Main Sequence duly preserved his unbeaten record in the handicap that closed proceedings, while Mayson made a breakthrough when opening up by three and a half lengths in the Connaught Abernant Stakes, despite what had seemed a fitful gallop. Richard Fahey will now test the substance of this apparent improvement in the Duke of York Stakes, at the Dante meeting. "We always thought he was capable of making his mark in a race like this," he said. "And he settled a little better today."
Chris McGrath's Nap
Blue Jack (1.35 Newbury) Now 3lb lower than when winning this two years ago, and looked back to form on his seasonal debut.
Aljamaaheer (2.40 Newbury) Exuded Group potential when heavily backed on debut last autumn.
Where the money's going
Ernest Hemingway, a debut winner at Dundalk last week, is 16-1 from 25-1 with Paddy Power for the Investec Epsom Derby.