Mice, men and those who see the racing programme in rigid terms can scheme all they like; horses, however, sometimes like to do things in their own time. Take Seta, for instance, who yesterday bounced back from her defeat in the 1,000 Guineas, in the process weaving another silky, eye-catching thread into the season's unfolding narrative. Though her effort at Newmarket was somewhat disappointing, it was perfectly excusable and she looks sure to take high rank among three-year-old fillies before the year ends.
Seta, trained by Luca Cumani, burst into public consciousness when she won her first race by no fewer than eight lengths last August and, after some impressive displays on the gallops in the spring, she started second favourite for the Rowley Mile showpiece, only the third run of her career.
Her first venture into Group One company may have been a bridge too far for one of her inexperience but a lesser contest at Leicester – rather than Sunday's Irish 1,000 Guineas, say – was a very satisfactory regrouping exercise.
Racing against three solidly-performed year-older fillies, Seta took over before the halfway point and, with Kieren Fallon winding the pace up, drew willingly clear for a decisive one-and-threequarter-length victory, belying her drift in the market. "Above all," said Cumani, "I wanted her to get her head in front again, to have a nice easy win for her confidence. The Irish Guineas would have been a hard race and after Newmarket I did not want that. She is still only a big frame of a filly."
Seta, indeed, is one of the most striking-looking horses in training, a tall white-blazed pale chestnut with a coat almost caramel in hue. In the Guineas, she was easily the youngest of the 17 competitors – the race was run only the day after her actual third birthday and the winner Special Duty, for instance, is nearly three months her senior – and she is still lanky and gangly.
But even in the 23 days since Newmarket she has made physical progress. "Coming down the hill in the Guineas didn't suit her," Fallon said, "and I looked after her from that point. She's certainly got stronger since then and is now back on the right road and is only going to get better."
Yesterday's race could have proved tactical, but the right man was in the saddle to counter that, although his timing over the seven furlongs was a second out. "We decided to disregard what the others did," said Cumani, "and ride the course for her. I told him to come back in 1.24 and change, and he did it in 1.25 and change."
It may yet be small steps before Seta, a daughter of Pivotal who races in the famous Leigh family colours, tries to emulate her close relatives Barathea and Gossamer with a top-level win. The next Group One pitstop for her age in the mile division is the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot but that, at this stage, is only a possibility. "It could be a big ask," added Cumani, "and we'll have to see what progress she makes at home. We'd like to think she'll be around as a four-year-old and she'll be given the time and patience she needs."
Another progressive three-year-old filly, Snow Fairy, is to take her chance in the Investec Oaks on Friday week, and will be the mount of the champion jockey Ryan Moore. The Ed Dunlop-trained daughter of Intikhab is to be supplemented for the Epsom showpiece, at a cost of £20,000, on the strength of her stylish success in her trial at Goodwood last week, and is judged a 14-1 shot in the market.
In Cologne yesterday the Godolphin team notched its first Classic of the season, albeit one of the least on the European circuit, when Frozen Power took the German 2,000 Guineas, a Group Two contest, in the last stride under Frankie Dettori.
Sue Montgomery's Nap
Mark Anthony (5.10 Ripon)
Progressive as a juvenile, when he won over today's course and distance, and, sharpened by his seasonal debut earlier this month, can pick up that thread on his first venture into handicap company.
Spring Heather (4.50 Chepstow)
Well-related daughter of Montjeu who showed a glimmer of ability last time and may be capable of more stepping up in distance on her handicap debut.
One to watch
Nickel Silver (B Smart) has been given a break after a successful winter all-weather campaign and will be of interest when he resumes on turf, on which he remains on a much lower mark.
Where the money's going
Despite Gold Cup contender Kite Wood's impressive return to action in France on Sunday, York winner Manifest hardens as favourite for the Ascot feature, now 7-2 from 4-1 with Paddy Power.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Erebus (2.50 Chepstow)