A year ago today, Peter Chapple-Hyam sent an unknown son of Montjeu to Newbury for the first start of his career. The colt showed promise, finishing third, but nobody who saw Chapple-Hyam's horsebox inching back along the choked motorways that Friday evening could have suspected that it contained the champion of his generation.
Authorized is now just 16 days away from the climax of a career that has since encompassed three Group One summits. He is as short as 6-4 favourite for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, but few know the far greater odds he has been facing in his own stall. In recent weeks, a season of runaway success for Chapple-Hyam has been derailed by a bug sweeping through his Newmarket yard.
He would doubtless have liked to introduce Amaakin, long rumoured to be an heir to Authorized, in the same Newbury race today. This Gone West colt was ready to run in July, but has since been among those caught up in a blizzard of blood tests and scopes. "It's been a nightmare," Chapple-Hyam confessed yesterday. "Everyone gets it, somewhere along the line, but it's just happened to us at the wrong time of year. They don't cough, or anything. They just don't eat, and they're flat. But I hope and think we're getting through it. They seem to be improving all the time. The trouble is there's nowhere I could isolate horses here. We have 70-odd boxes and 60-odd horses here. If one got it, they could all get it. But Authorized has been clear all the way through. It's unbelievable, really."
He admits that Amaakin, already no bigger than 20-1 for the Stan James 2,000 Guineas, can abandon any lofty ambitions this season. "We've been running very few two-year-olds," he said. "A lot of them have been wrong, and he was one of them. We can't have big plans now, it'll just have to be maidens."
But Chapple-Hyam has by no means despaired of a juvenile Group One success, with Winker Watson still on course for the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket a fortnight today. And, among the three-year-olds, Dutch Art and Tariq are likely to accompany Authorized to Longchamp. Though Chapple-Hyam has had just three winners since Authorized won at York last month, he will have taken his cue came from the latest of them, at Goodwood 17 days ago: a horse named Don't Panic. The stable's renewed momentum is reflected on the Rowley Mile today, with four runners on a card devoted entirely to juveniles.
The second afternoon of the Western Meeting at Ayr features the Totesport Silver Cup, but the day's most interesting fixture remains Newbury. The presence of Papal Bull means that the Dubai Duty Free Arc Trial might yet live up to its billing, while Authorized is only the latest top-class colt to have announced himself in the Haynes, Hanson & Clark Stakes, following Shergar, Shahrastani, Rainbow Quest, Nayef and Unfuwain, among others. Last year's winner, Teslin, has been disappointing but the runner-up, Aqaleem, won the Lingfield Derby Trial and then ran third in the Derby. His trainer, Marcus Tregoning, has won this race three times and has two runners today.
"It's the right time of year," Tregoning said. "And I think the track suits these immature staying types. Talayeb is by Nayef, and I hope he can keep up his sire's excellent start. Askar Tau is a lovely son of Montjeu, quite a big horse, and you wouldn't expect him to be precocious. It's all about next year with him."
As for Papal Bull, Ryan Moore has been the making of him this summer and it must be hoped that the champion jockey can ride after a fall at Ayr yesterday. He was stood down for the remainder of a vile afternoon, but apparently merely hurt a toe. It was a much more serious accident in the spring that cost him any chance of retaining his title, but a gripping duel is developing to fill the vacancy. A winner at Pontefract yesterday took Seb Sanders level with Jamie Spencer at 140 apiece.
Coverage of racing on Channel 4, imperilled by the imminent withdrawal of Tote sponsorship, yesterday seemed to have been secured when the broadcaster announced that it is negotiating a two-year deal with Dubai Holding.
Nap: Ezdiyaad (Newbury 5.05)
NB: Centennial (Newbury 3.20)