To the few with sufficient imagination not to have dismissed the idea as hopelessly quixotic, when it was switched from Wednesday to Saturday, the French today show how our Derby might feasibly have been staged at an evening meeting. The Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris, nowadays their closest approximation to a Derby, enables patriots of the French Turf to celebrate Bastille Day with a sunlit soiree in the Bois de Boulogne.
The Longchamp consumption of crustaceans, champagne and summer fruits tonight will doubtless call to mind the notorious rejoinder, "Let them eat cake". But the race itself suggests you cannot have too much of a good thing.
That is as pertinent to the hosts as it is to the man who hopes to play Wellington when they meet their Waterloo – at least to the extent that the Iron Duke, too, was born in Ireland. Aidan O'Brien, already foiled by one unbeaten French colt at Epsom, now takes on another by saddling three of the six rivals to Reliable Man. The Ballydoyle trio, all sons of the mighty Galileo, are headed by Treasure Beach, who was only collared in the final stride by Pour Moi at Epsom and has since won his home Derby at the Curragh.
It has somehow been presented as a boost to Colm O'Donoghue, masterly in both those races, that he has retained the ride on Treasure Beach. But it would have been preposterous to contemplate replacing him with an amalgam of Lester Piggott, Bill Shoemaker and Fred Archer, never mind with Ryan Moore. An overdue boost to O'Donoghue would be the chance to stake a prior and lasting claim on Ballydoyle's next wave of stars. For instance, he rode the stable's most precocious juvenile on his debut – only for Moore to be summoned when Power proceeded to Royal Ascot.
To that extent, tonight's race does represent another chance for O'Donoghue to showcase his eligibility to be classed among the international jockey elite. The one obvious anxiety is that Treasure Beach has had two very taxing races in barely six weeks, and would be entitled to a break. All things being equal, however, his honesty, stamina and toughness qualify him as a formidable opponent for Reliable Man.
Certainly his form over this distance is unimpeachable. His defeat of Nathaniel at Chester has proved top-class form, while his performance at the Curragh reproved those still infatuated by horses that had brought bigger reputations to Epsom.
The fact that Seville follows him here, after being worn down late at the Curragh, perhaps represents insurance against Treasure Beach's gauge entering the red. Certainly Seville had himself consumed very little fuel at Epsom, for various reasons, though the suspicion persists that he may ultimately prove more of a Leger type.
Moore, meanwhile, is enlisted for Marksmanship. This colt was the subject of significant backing at Royal Ascot but proved too inexperienced to overcome traffic at ten furlongs. He could prove a different proposition raised in trip.
As for Reliable Man, his pedigree permits little doubt about the longer distance. He must be top-class, to have handled such a big step up in grade so fluently in the Prix du Jockey Club, beating the colt who had previously finished second to Pour Moi himself at Saint-Cloud in May. Bubble Chic, that perennial runner-up, tries again today – but his principal service may be to verify that little divides Europe's elite middle-distance three-year-olds. André Fabre, Pour Moi's trainer, duly introduces two others to the equation, though each must improve to emulate his ten previous winners.
Reliable Man, with so few miles on the clock, can clearly progress again; but Treasure Beach, rather like his jockey, is one of those who has to work harder than seems fair for due credit. At corresponding odds, then, he too warrants fidelity.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Last Sovereign (2.40 Leicester) This rival to Lightning Cloud looked ready to strike for his new yard when second over course and distance.
Jo'burg (8.40 Doncaster) Veteran now looking well treated on last season's best form.
One to watch
Long Awaited (Roger Varian) Was fourth when favourite at Chester on Saturday, but confirmed himself well treated.
Where the money's going
Nathaniel, a possible for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, 8-1 at Coral.