With just one horse so far proving capable of winning at Group One level, 2007 has been a long year for Godolphin. But unprecedented investment in new blood for his breeding empire has emphasised that Sheikh Mohammed is playing a long game. And this weekend his stable can underline its renewal in the shorter term, too.
It is in the interests of all neutrals when Godolphin are competitive. Its champions are always campaigned openly and adventurously, and in recent days the Sheikh himself has twice reminded everyone what a friend he is to British racing – first by guaranteeing its coverage on terrestrial television, and then by requiring the vendors of the trade newspaper to pay a total of £10m to four flabbergasted racing charities.
Tomorrow Godolphin has the horses to beat in the juvenile Group One races at Longchamp, and the stable also has fine prospects on today's card there, through Echo Of Light and Stage Gift. But its horses can keep the home fires burning, as well, by winning the Totesport Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket.
One of several interesting runners carrying a penalty, Seabow can be backed at much bigger odds than the rest, having seemed to make heavy weather of winning at Sandown last time. But he was idling in front and, having disappointed when turned out quickly after his reappearance, is expected to show the benefit of a 10-week absence since. As well-bred as he is lightly raced, SEABOW (nap 3.55) looks outstanding value at 33-1.
The dangers include Monte Alto, whose jockey will be hoping to crown a great season on Soldier Of Fortune at Longchamp tomorrow. Johnny Murtagh can win yet another Group One prize on Simply Perfect (3.20) in the Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes. Having secured her a similar prize with a superb front-running ride over the July Course, this time Murtagh has only Speciosa as competition for the lead – and she will not enjoy the drying ground. Simply Perfect has since been beaten just a length by the top-class Darjina at Deauville.
Creachadoir makes his Godolphin debut in the Joel Stakes, where Jessica Harrington hopes to extend her remarkable run on the Flat with Jumbajukiba. But the value is Tobosa (2.45), who has his quirks, but also a jockey to make up his mind in Jimmy Fortune. This handsome colt excelled over this track on his reappearance, and has had valid excuses since producing a top-class handicap performance at Haydock in May.
This time last year Brian Meehan assembled a team of yearlings worthy of his new quarters at Manton, and Joffe's Run (2.10) can extend his consequent good streak with juveniles in the Oh So Sharp Stakes.
BBC2 honours Kempton with a visit and can witness Amarna (next best 2.35) extend his contribution to Godolphin's revival, but the broadcaster's focus is Longchamp. The highlight is the Prix de la Forêt, which justifies its Group One billing by introducing top-class sprinters and milers to each other over the intermediate distance. Seven furlongs is ideal for Tariq (2.25), whose scope for progress is rivalled only by US Ranger.
Even this glittering prize is a bauble compared with tomorrow, when the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is girdled by five Group One prizes. As many as 20,000 pilgrims will be drawn from Britain and Ireland by many fascinating storylines: those Godolphin juveniles, Laureldean Gale and Rio De La Plata; Kingsgate Native, the impudent Nunthorpe winner who tackles his elders again in the Prix de l'Abbaye; Light Shift, who seeks to seal her trainer's resurgence in the Prix de l'Opera; and finally Yeats, who can outclass his rivals for the Prix du Cadran under Kieren Fallon.
Nap: Seabow(Newmarket 3.55)
NB: Amarna (Kempton 2.35)