Trading Leather well placed to topple elders
Friday 26 July 2013
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.
Chris McGrath's nap
Nashville (8.00 Lingfield)
Simply Black (5.15 York)
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here
Latest in Sport
Mario Balotelli comment: Time running out for 'lost boy' to shine at Liverpool, or anywhere
Cristiano Ronaldo applauded by Liverpool fans after master-class for Real Madrid, despite Manchester United ties
Angel Di Maria injury latest: Argentina international set to play in Manchester United vs Chelsea match
Liverpool vs Real Madrid match report: Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema run Reds ragged at Anfield
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
£4848 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Outstanding...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Cover Supervisors/Long Term Teaching Ass...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher...
£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Cover Supervisors needed for seco...