The running of France's traditional Bastille Day highlight, the Grand Prix de Paris, has opened up the intriguing prospect of the storming of another seemingly impregnable citadel.
After Derby runner-up Main Sequence's close and undeniably unlucky fourth place in the 12-furlong Longchamp showpiece, his trainer David Lanigan indicated that a rematch with his Epsom conqueror, Camelot, in the St Leger was on the cards. Main Sequence was a length and a half behind Saturday night's winner Imperial Monarch, who had himself been a sufferer in last month's rough Prix du Jockey Club. This time his rider, Joseph O'Brien, took interference out of his equation by making the running.
But behind him, Main Sequence was repeatedly stopped in his run in the home straight as Ted Durcan sought a way through gaps that seemed to close as soon as he even thought of aiming at them. The Aldebaran colt crossed the line galloping strongly with plenty of reserves untapped but his trainer, Lambourn-based Lanigan, apportioned no blame to the jockey in the aftermath.
"That kind of thing can happen," he explained yesterday, "and has happened to a lot more people than you can name. It's just one of those things; they probably didn't go a great pace early, which can generate its own problems.
"It was frustrating but that's life. We live to fight another day and at least we know we have a nice horse on our hands. And the important thing is that he's improved since the Derby.
"He was unlucky in his run last night, he was just getting rolling when he was stopped, but mentally he's grown up a lot since Epsom.
"And the positive we learned was that he will stay the mile and six furlongs of the St Leger. That trip would not be a problem for him and it gives us a lot more options."
Camelot, Imperial Monarch's star Ballydoyle stablemate, is 1-3 favourite for the Doncaster Classic, while Main Sequence, who runs in the Niarchos family colours, is judged around an 8-1 shot.
It was Imperial Monarch who was the last to thwart Main Sequence's route to the winning post in Paris, showing his inexperience as he wavered off a true line under pressure. The Galileo colt, the 9-5 favourite, had only a head to spare over Last Train, with another André Fabre inmate, Saint Baudolino, half a length third, and had to survive a 35-minute stewards' enquiry to keep the Group One prize. His next outing is likely to be the Prix Niel, France's chief trial for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Saturday's domestic Group One hero Mayson, who gave rider Paul Hanagan and trainer Richard Fahey their first domestic top-level successes in the July Cup, also has Arc day at Longchamp in his sights.
"The Nunthorpe at York and the Sprint Cup at Haydock are possibles," said Fahey yesterday of David Armstrong's homebred, "but the one definite target is the Prix de l'Abbaye."
Chris McGrath's Nap: Minoan Dancer (8.40 Windsor)
Sure to progress from her debut effort, where she showed a commendable attitude to beat a subsequent dual winner, and will be well suited by today's emphasis on stamina.
Next Best: Rasaman (2.35 Ayr)
Has shown more consistent form since the application of a hood and though his latest win, in a better contest, was by only a short-head, it was decisive enough.
Where The Money's Going: Mount Athos is as short as 6-1 (with Betfred and Bet365) for next month's Ebor Handicap at York after his easy success on the Knavesmire on Saturday.Reuse content