One would have thought a horse who finished third in the 2009 Arc de Triomphe after winning a Group 1 would be enjoying a career at stud by now or, at the very least, putting his feet up in honourable retirement, not slogging through the Newmarket rain against rivals half his age.
But far from resenting the prolongation of his racing career, the extraordinary Cavalryman appears to be relishing it, his victory in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes being the latest highlight.
Not only that, but Saeed bin Suroor, who trains the eight-year-old for Godolphin, is now talking of even bigger things to come, starting with the Goodwood Cup at the end of this month and then a second tilt at the Melbourne Cup in the autumn.
The Goodwood race is a fairly predictable next step for a horse who outstayed better fancied rivals on the softened ground under a canny front-running ride from Silvestre De Sousa, a real feather in the cap for a jockey who has fallen behind Kieren Fallon in the Godolphin pecking order this year.
But Flemington on 4 November is the really exciting prospect. Godolphin have finished runner-up three times in “the race that stops a nation”, most recently with Crime Scene in 2009, and they are hopeful that Cavalryman’s enthusiasm can finally break down the wall, although it has to be said he didn’t cut much ice in the race two years ago.
Bin Suroor knows how tough it will be, but feels Cavalryman might fit the bill this time around: “Once the Melbourne Cup was for handicappers, but now you need a Group horse.
“Two miles is his trip and he’s very tough.”
This was supposed to be the day when Arab Spring broke through from the handicap ranks, but he was a bitter disappointment, stablemate Hillstar making a much better fist of claiming a 10th race win for Sir Michael Stoute in coming second.
Persistent rain hadn’t, according to the jockeys, made a significant change to the ground by race time (it was later officially altered to “good to soft”), but a prominent position did seem essential.
Elsewhere, Hartnell made all the running in the Bahrain Stakes to follow up his Royal Ascot victory and serve notice of a serious St Leger challenge. There’s no more 20-1 about him for the Doncaster classic; he’s now as short as 6-1 with one firm.
Ivawood disputes favouritism for next year’s 2,000 Guineas after giving the Richard Hannon stable its fourth July Stakes win in five years.
Jockey Richard Hughes didn’t argue with the bookies’ assessment, saying: “He gave me the wow factor at Sandown first time out and so from my outside draw I said ‘OK, I’ll let you bowl along and see how good you are’. He was very, very impressive.”
It isn’t meant to be so wet and miserable at Newmarket’s July meeting and everyone is hoping the umbrellas can be put away and fancy hats donned instead for Ladies Day this afternoon.
Sadly, there are no guarantees and Hannon will walk the course before deciding if Sky Lantern, last year’s 1,000 Guineas winner, takes her chance in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes.
Even if she runs, Integral (2.40, Newmarket), who beat her convincingly at Royal Ascot, is likely to again have her measure. She’ll be at cramped odds, but Charles Molson (3.15, Newmarket), running nicely into top form, has a good chance of victory at a decent price.
Aidan O’Brien has confirmed that dual Derby winner Australia will be aimed at York’s Juddmonte International next month.
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