A week ago Sea The Stars showed just what can be found at the end of the rainbow and though yesterday's juvenile contests may not point the way to such shining brilliance, time may reveal special treasures nonetheless. Past editions of Ascot's Autumn Stakes have produced talent of the measure of Nashwan, Nayef and Dylan Thomas, and if Morana's victory yesterday was narrow enough, hopes held for him are broader.
The son of Alhaarth stayed on strongly under Alan Munro to take the Group Three mile contest by a head from Prompter, the pair well clear of their bunched rivals. It was the progressive colt's first victory after two second-place maiden defeats, of which trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam blames himself for the latest.
"I'd kept him too fresh and he ran like a sprinter with the choke out," he said. "He was settled today and performed more like the horse he is, one for next year who wants a trip. He may run again this season, maybe in the ten-furlong Group One in France."
Morana remains among the long-shots for the Derby but his Newmarket stable also houses one of the ante-post Epsom favourites, Coordinated Cut, due to put his reputation on the line in the last top-level race of the domestic season, the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday week.
At York, Layla's Hero looked an above average young sprint talent as he continued his progress with a clear-cut success in the Rockingham Stakes, sweeping from last to first in the final furlong under Eddie Ahern and then travelling powerfully some way past the post before his rider could pull him up. "That felt impressive," said Ahern. "The ground was sticky yet he changed gear as soon as I wanted and he'll be stronger an better next year."
The One Cool Cat colt, trained by Dandy Nicholls, provided the second prestige prize of the afternoon for his owner Marwan Koukash. Less than an hour earlier the Liverpool-based international entrepreneur's Our Jonathan, from the Kevin Ryan yard, took Ascot's Cornwallis Stakes thanks to inch-perfect judgment from Jamie Spencer. From the widest draw the jockey tracked to the rails and pounced through an eye-of-the-needle gap to catch favourite Taajub.
A fruitless day here for the Godolphin team started badly with the news of a positive result after a routine drugs test on an earlier winner, believed to be Delegator after the Celebration Mile at Goodwood. The horse's identity will not be confirmed until the B sample test results are known.
The mainstream jump season has hardly started yet 15-times champion Tony McCoy already has a century on the scoreboard, reaching the milestone yesterday at Bangor on Tempsford. At Chepstow, Paul Nicholls' chaser Gullible Gordon put down an early marker in the staying novice division with a superb round of jumping.