Trading Leather well placed to topple elders

 

Like wine, racehorses from different vintages can vary in quality, as indeed they must.

Although the public craves a superstar every year, it is simply not possible for the bar to keep going up. And after enjoying a couple of genuine equine greats – Frankel and Sea The Stars – in the past five years, backed up by a decent selection of above- average performers, we should perhaps not be disappointed or surprised that the best on offer this season have duly regressed to the mean.

To call the field for tomorrow afternoon’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes supermarket plonk would be insulting, but neither is it grand cru. Twelve months ago, before the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine Danedream nosed out the previous year’s winner Nathaniel, seven out of the ten runners had won 14 top-level prizes worldwide.

Tomorrow, four of the eight competitors can muster just seven Group 1 victories between them. That total would, of course, have been nearly doubled had poor St Nicholas Abbey been able to take part. The life of the six-year-old, six times an elite winner, is now in double jeopardy; having come through surgery to repair the pastern shattered on Monday, he was back in the operating theatre today after suffering a colic attack during the night. The prognosis for his recovery is now, according to his Coolmore connections, “very guarded”.

Despite offering a £1m purse, the King George (currently sponsored by Betfair) has, one way or another, lost its role as the season’s automatic first elite middle-distance generation game, the showdown increasingly eschewed by three-year-olds. Over the last ten years two of the age group have won, Nathaniel in 2011 and Alamshar in 2003. Since the last Derby hero to succeed, Galileo 12 years ago, just two of that ilk have run, Kris Kin (third to Alamshar) and Workforce, fifth three years ago.

Only two three-year-olds take on their elders today. But one of them is taken to reverse the trend and bring some honour to a Classic crop already much derided. The generation’s showcase, the Derby, may not be up to standard (apart from the horse who finished last, Dawn Approach, a tip-top miler) but young horses develop at different rates – as Trading Leather, who skipped Epsom, showed when he took last month’s Irish Derby.

The older brigade present the cast of international performers that is the norm at the top level nowadays. Chief among them is the challenger from France, Cirrus Des Aigles. The admirable seven-year-old is the highest-rated horse in training and will strip fit after last month’s opener behind another of tomorrow’s runners, the German raider Novellist, but his best form has been on easy underfoot conditions.

Trading Leather (3.50) will have his fast ground and the three-year-old weight allowance, and is handled by one of the profession’s shrewdest masters at developing the animals under his care. And the last time Jim Bolger won the Ascot showpiece, in 1992, it was with a similarly upwardly mobile type, St Jovite.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's nap

Nashville (8.00 Lingfield)

Next Best

Simply Black (5.15 York)

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup