The splash made by Sea The Stars continues to ripple even across relatively stagnant waters. A Listed race contested by just four animals here yesterday proved scarcely adequate to wrest the gaze from the sway and swell of the downs beyond, but the fact is that the easy winner, Twice Over, had been beaten out of sight behind Sea The Stars at Sandown in July.
In fairness, Twice Over was not at his best that day, still to absorb a very generous effort at Royal Ascot barely a fortnight previously – when beaten less than a length in Group One company for the second time running. And the way he has been cajoled back towards deeper waters since is instructive of the benevolent instincts of his trainer, Henry Cecil.
Twice Over is likely to be restored to elite competition in the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes at Newmarket next month, his self-esteem artfully renewed first by the opportunity to outclass inferiors in a conditions race at the St Leger meeting, and now by this comfortable disposal of slightly more competent opposition.
The 2-5 favourite seemed to idle once taking over approaching the furlong pole, and Tom Queally suggested that he might not have been wholly at home with the idiosyncrasies of the track. But Cecil's assistant, Mike Marshall, was satisfied that the race had served its purpose. "That will have done him the power of good, as he has had some tough races in his time," he said. "It was all about boosting his confidence, and he had a nice way about going about his business today. He's a lovely horse and deserves a big prize."
His ongoing quest for fulfilment places in due perspective the excitement prompted, earlier in the afternoon, by another colt owned and bred by Khaled Abdulla's Juddmonte Farms. When he beat no less a colt than Raven's Pass in the Craven last year, Twice Over had the world at his feet, a plausible favourite for either the 2,000 Guineas or the Derby. In the end, he contested neither, sitting out the former only to get turned over in his trial for the latter. So what can we make of Classic quotes as short as 20-1 against Workforce, after his debut success in what was a pretty mediocre maiden?
It was certainly a striking performance, sufficient to draw an uncharacteristic grin from Ryan Moore on dismounting. Drawn widest of all, the champion jockey had been obliged to weave his way through from the rear, but never needed more than hands and heels to urge Workforce six lengths clear.
A son of King's Best out of a sister to Brian Boru, he has every right to make the grade over middle distances next season, and in the hands of Sir Michael Stoute will only improve with maturity. "And he has a superb temperament," said Stoute's representative, Jimmy Scott. "For a big horse, he is such a gentleman. We call him Sefton [after the celebrated police horse]. He would have done it even better over a mile, and he was drawn in the car park. I wouldn't be surprised if the boss wanted to give him another run this season."
But this was a start, no more, and possibly not even the most auspicious by a Juddmonte juvenile over the past 24 hours. The previous afternoon, at Chantilly, a filly named Deluxe had also won first time out for Andre Fabré and she will remain priceless even if that were to prove the limit of her achievements. By the American champion sire, Storm Cat, Deluxe is the latest progeny of the phenomenal Hasili, dam of five Group One winners as well as one who was probably better than all of them in Dansili, who is now making a big contribution to the Juddmonte empire as a stallion; Hasili herself has returned to Britain for a tryst next spring with Abdulla's other young gun, Oasis Dream.
It has also been a productive week for John Best, for whom the success of Agent Archie offered the latest evidence that his stable is shaking off the bug that has vexed him for the past couple of months. "We've 60 two-year-olds and a lot still to run," Best said. "So, hopefully, it can now be a good autumn."
Turf account: Chris McGrath
Laaheb (4.00 Pontefract) This well bred, well built and unexposed colt pulled a long way clear of the rest when harrying a useful rival at Newmarket last time, and his relentless style of galloping should be ideally tailored to this stiff finish.
In The Slips (3.00 Pontefract) Much improved on her nursery debut at the St Leger meeting, where her strong finish implied that she will match her revised rating given this much stiffer test of stamina.
One to watch
Vimiero (W R Swinburn) caught the eye in the parade ring and the race when on his debut at Newbury on Saturday, over what is likely to prove a minimum trip (7f), staying on nicely for fourth.
Where the money's going
Charm School is 12-1 from 16-1 with Coral for the Totesport Cambridgeshire.Reuse content