One of many dividends from the emergence of Galileo and Montjeu, as heirs to Sadler's Wells, was a new commercial respectability for staying pedigrees. As a result, Coolmore Stud's principal trainer has been able to perform something of a transfusion for the reputation of the Gold Cup, highlight of Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot.
After winning it four times running with Yeats, a son of Sadler's Wells, Aidan O'Brien was foiled only by a neck with Age Of Aquarius (by Galileo) and last year produced a new champion stayer in Fame And Glory (by Montjeu). All three had established Group One calibre at middle distances, without matching other stallion prospects at Ballydoyle, enabling them to share a new lease of life with these Cup races.
Fame And Glory took the step up to this marathon distance, on testing ground, with such conviction that it already seemed hard to envisage anything stopping him this time round. True, an exciting young rival has since emerged in Saddler's Rock – himself one of the last bequests of Sadler's Wells – but it is worth persevering with first impressions. Like Yeats, Fame And Glory (3.45) is simply a cut above the norm in this division and his rehearsal suggests him as good as ever.
Saddler's Rock did beat Opinion Poll more comprehensively in the Doncaster Cup than did Fame And Glory in two meetings last season, while Colour Vision's debut for Godolphin identified another maturing towards this level. Both may be uncomfortable with any deterioration in conditions, however, and for now a horse good enough to win an Irish Derby and Coronation Cup in his youth must retain an edge in class.
The Oaks second, third and fourth reconvene for a vintage running of the Ribblesdale Stakes. Among many fillies to experience bad luck at Epsom, The Fugue almost certainly suffered most before flying into third. But this is her fourth demanding assignment in seven weeks and, should she happen to run flat, it would not take very long to work out why. Shirocco Star, beaten only a neck that day, could certainly recoil from that hard race as a filly who seems to live on her nerves. A chance is duly taken with Kailani (3.05), who was never able to open up thanks to a combination of traffic, tactics and track aversion. She remains entitled to flourish over this distance, and will enjoy the predicted easing in the ground.
Pink Damsel could be anything, and her trainer fast-tracks another striking maiden winner, Morawij, in the Norfolk Stakes. But there could be a bit of value about a more experienced sort in Storm Moon (2.30) who was ridden with too much haste last time and had previously looked an ideal type.
The other Group race, the Tercentenary Stakes, brings together several who looked worth backing next time, notably Rewarded, Tales Of Grimm and Mukhadram (5.00). The latter's trainer would not squander a feasible handicap mark without reason and shaped well in easy ground on his debut. Two progressive candidates for the handicaps, meanwhile, are Anomaly (5.35) and Prince Alzain (4.25).
The Turf Account
Chris McGrath's nap
Colour Guard (4.0 Ripon)
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