Sir Michael Stoute remains top of the trainers' table but this week must feel like the nadir of his season. On Saturday his blossoming champion, Harbinger, broke down in the course of what should have been a perfectly innocuous workout. Then, on Monday, his stable jockey had a fall at Windsor and suffered a wrist injury that yesterday remained ominously vague in extent. Ryan Moore has given up all his rides until Friday at the earliest and may lose critical ground in his pursuit of Paul Hanagan in defence of his own title.
Yesterday Stoute reflected for the first time in public on the retirement of the colt who thrashed two Derby winners by 11 lengths on what proved his final appearance. "You've just got to keep cool and remember there are people suffering more than you, like the girl who looks after him and the girl who rides him," he said. "It was a big blow for all concerned. He was a nice character and proved in the King George how good he had become. Who knows? If he had kept at that plateau, we'd have a world champion."
One of those Derby winners, of course, is also trained by Stoute, but he was offering no clues as to a likely target for Workforce, who had himself won by a staggering margin at Epsom before disappointing at Ascot. "Maybe he wasn't ready to be trained hard for two big races, he's a big fellow," Stoute said. "It was a scintillating performance at Epsom and he had a hard race. We felt we had him back in form before the King George, but he was well below par there. We've just backed off him, but he looks well and is back cantering. We'll just see how he goes when he's back in fast work before making a definite target."
Stoute hopes to bring back his Ladbrokes St Leger candidate, Total Command, at York on Tuesday and the chances are that he may not have to worry about Rebel Soldier in the Great Voltigeur Stakes. The recent Gordon Stakes winner is the subject of a big offer to continue his career abroad.
Ceilidh House, last seen disappointing in the Oaks, will only resurface at Salisbury today if there is sufficient rain. Otherwise she, too, has options at York next week.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Tuscan Gold (8.15 Sandown)
Alsace Lorraine (4.05 Salisbury)
One to watch
Latin Lashes (R Hannon) managed to chase home a more experienced stablemate on her debut at Windsor last week despite a slipping saddle.
Where the money's going
Harris Tweed is 5-1 from 6-1 with the sponsors for the Totesport Ebor at York next week.