After the sun king, the deluge. Those privileged to be here for the first day of the meeting will attest that the Knavesmire has rarely, if ever, taken the imprint of a greater thoroughbred than Frankel. Yesterday, however, they experienced an obverse of the sport's glories. Both big races were run in a downpour, while darker clouds still extinguished the dazzling promise of Newfangled.
Runaway winner of her two previous starts, Newfangled started a hot favourite for the Jaguar Cars Lowther Stakes. Barely a furlong after leaving the gate, however, her career could be presumed over. Alarmed by a sudden loss of rhythm, William Buick desperately sought to arrest her momentum. The stricken filly, initially treated behind screens, was taken away for scans but the initial diagnosis was of a pelvic fracture.
The despondency of her connections was in poignant contrast to the delight of William Haggas, a proud Yorkshireman exiled in Newmarket, whose Rosdhu Queen filled the sad vacuum to extend her unbeaten record to three. Always in the van, she was pressed by Baileys Jubilee inside the last but found extra to score by just under two lengths.
So scrupulous in the placement of his horses, Haggas admitted this an unexpected gift on his 52nd birthday. "That wasn't the plan," he said. "We were going to ride her for third and hope we got lucky."
Rosdhu Queen won her second race at Newbury only last Friday. "I don't normally run them back this quick," Haggas said. "But Steve Parkin, who owns her, is a Yorkshireman as well – so what did we have to lose? We may as well have some fun, it's what we do it for. And she's pretty good."
Sure enough, he has given her an entry against older sprinters in the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp on Arc day, though the Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster next month beckons first. Richard Hughes, her jockey, was profiting doubly from the misfortunes of others, having picked up the mount only after Ryan Moore suffered injury at Warwick on Tuesday. "It's funny how things work out," he said. "Ryan should have ridden her, but broke his wrist on a horse I'd have been riding if I hadn't picked up a ban."
With Moore now sidelined for several weeks, Hughes is long odds-on to win a first title. In the trainers' championship, meanwhile, John Gosden retains every chance of a parallel distinction, no less his due, but this was a rare black day in his season. After the cruel mishap to Newfangled, he saddled The Fugue as favourite for the Darley Yorkshire Oaks – only to see her run out of it close home by the rallying Shareta.
In a race run at a diffident gallop, into the teeth of a squall, Buick sent The Fugue past Was inside the final furlong. But this had turned into a very different test from the one that served The Fugue so well at Goodwood last time, and the French filly wore her down by a neck. A fine ride, this, from Christophe Lemaire, who shadowed the steady pace but kept his cool once the tempo quickened. Shareta was a surprise runner-up in the Arc last year, but Alain de Royer-Dupré's priority for now will be the Prix Vermeille.
Gosden felt the ground had turned against The Fugue, who will duly be pointed towards the Breeders' Cup. Sadly, there is little evidence that connections of Frankel will heed a groundswell of interest in their champion venturing to either California or Longchamp, with Ascot in October remaining favoured as the bird in the hand. Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager to Khaled Abdulla, summed up the mood in the camp yesterday by saying: "The best time to leave a party is when you least want to go."
The big race today is the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, in which Nocturnal Affair (3.40) looks value at 25-1. It is only a year since the South African import made his debut for David Marnane, and he has quickly progressed to rub shoulders with some of the quickest on the planet in Dubai. True, Ortensia swept past him on World Cup night and returned to her best at Goodwood last time, but she pounced off a strong pace on both occasions and this track may not play to her strengths. Nocturnal Affair shaped very nicely in a recent warm-up at Tipperary, tanking along until flattening out in soft ground. The fellow on top brings a momentum all of his own. Ridden in Dubai by Moore, the gelding is partnered for the first time by Hughes.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Bordoni (7.05 Hamilton) Shared his stable's loss of form but can contribute to revival off mark 4lb lower than on his handicap debut back in April.
Escape To Glory (5.15 Newmarket) Back into lower grade, where he has touch of class.
Where the money's going
Camborne is 7-1 from 9-1 with William Hill for the Betfred Ebor Handicap at York tomorrow.