It is surprising that nobody has come up with some fatuous new branding for this fixture, now that it contains so many races confined to fillies and mares – including no fewer than three Group Ones. But then life is full of missed opportunities. How on earth, for instance, did a filly by Street Cry out of Short Skirt end up with any name other than Wolf Whistle?
Minidress, as she was christened instead, has failed to seduce Frankie Dettori in the Sakhee Oh So Sharp Stakes today. The Godolphin jockey favours Rakasa, but while her form may be strictly superior, it came in a muddling race at Goodwood last time – and there could be value, as a result, in the mount of Ahmed Ajtebi.
The former camel rider's profile has dimmed somewhat since his staggering success at the 2009 Breeders' Cup, not least through the emergence of a more obvious heir to Dettori in Mickael Barzalona. But handsome is as handsome does, and he continues to yield a big level stakes profit. Minidress made her contribution with an emphatic debut success over on the July Course and, while the form has not really worked out, everything else about Minidress (1.15) demands close inspection. From an excellent middle-distance family, she hurtled four lengths clear in a sprint finish that day and Mahmood al-Zarooni can measure her competence for this level against an exceptional team of juvenile fillies. To date the most accomplished among them is another daughter of Street Cry, Lyric Of Light, herself fast-tracked from maiden to Group company when winning the May Hill Stakes. She is duly favourite for the Shadwell Fillies' Mile – run at Newmarket for the first time, in dubious part-exchange for the Champion Stakes – but is pursued here by Fallen For You, who only has a neck to find. Their form at Doncaster was diluted by a fairly flat run by Regal Realm, however, and so a chance is taken with the raw potential of Firdaws (3.0).
As has been well and widely observed by now, it would be difficult to resist a sense of benign destiny should Roger Varian win his first Group One prize in the week he lost his mentor, Michael Jarvis. And Firdaws could hardly condense the Jarvis legacy better, as a daughter of his last Classic winner, Eswarah. She was not terribly flamboyant at Salisbury, but had an awful draw on dead ground, and Jarvis has plainly taught his assistant not to hasten young horses out of their grade.
"I'm really happy with her and she'll like this faster going," Varian said yesterday. "There are a couple in there bringing proven Group form to the table, and we had the choice of the Oh So Sharp over seven furlongs, but she wants a mile now so we thought we'd play to her strengths." He had just welcomed back Farraaj after a solid second in the Somerville Tattersall Stakes, just done for pace by Crius. "Frankie said he wants a mile now, and that the race rode more like six and a half furlongs in these conditions."
Richard Hannon Jr, assistant to his father, predicted that the progressive Crius will return in a Guineas trial next spring. A first prize of nearly £20,000 meanwhile extended to around £600,000 the Hannons' lead over John Gosden in the trainers' table and – perhaps more pertinently, given the riches that beckon Frankel at Ascot next month – to £850,000 their advantage over Sir Henry Cecil. "It all helps," Hannon Jr grinned. "But the only one who keeps an eye on it is my mother. She counts every penny, every morning at breakfast! It's great for racing that it'll go to the wire."
Lucky punter could scoop £2.5m Jackpot
A record Jackpot pool of £2.5m is predicted at Newmarket today after an agonising reverse for the sole surviving ticket in the final leg yesterday.
After eight consecutive rollovers, the pool had swollen to £1.26m but a solitary £1 line remained after four races – resting on Times Up in the fifth, and Swiss Dream in the sixth. Times Up cruised home, leaving a £896,127 dividend entirely at the mercy of Swiss Dream in the 5.05.
She looked poised to win, too – only to be held off by half a length by of all things, La Fortunata.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Alakhan (2.05 Haydock) Few leave John Oxx and prosper but this well-bred animal evidently needed more time and is progressing fast for his new stable, bolting up at Chester.
Classic Colori (4.45 Haydock) Ran his best race in a while on his debut for this yard, which has excelled with so many other recruits, and can exploit what has become a fair mark.
One to watch
Dubious Escapade (Ann Duffield) Is eligible for nurseries now and the way she finished for third at Catterick the other day suggested she can certainly win one over a little farther.
Where the money's going
Man Of Action is 11-1 from 12-1 with William Hill for the Betfred Cambridgeshire at Newmarket tomorrow, while Red Gulch is 14-1 from 16-1 for the same race.Reuse content