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Warning signs of brother's debut


If their trainer is right, in venturing that Frankel might even relish the new conditions awaiting him at Ascot on Saturday, then the debut of Morpheus at Nottingham yesterday suggested that no such disposition can run in the family.

The champion's two-year-old half-brother by Oasis Dream had a number of alternative mitigations for the way he laboured into seventh in a mile maiden: immaturity, inexperience, a failure to settle in the early stages. Never mind that Morpheus will do well to disclose even half the ability of Frankel during the remainder of his career.

On the face of it, his palpable exhaustion in the straight looked an uncomfortable template for Frankel's first experience of extreme ground in the Qipco Champion Stakes. But the bottom line remains that Frankel's sheer prowess would make him seem less vulnerable in deep going than if he depended solely on glitzy acceleration.

In the bigger picture, the seasonal likelihood of poor going was only one of several reasons why the scheduling of this meeting has invited controversy. But the organisers were none the less relieved at least to suspend that debate, when blessed with extraordinarily clement conditions for its inauguration, last year.

As it happens, the forecast towards the end of the week looks more promising, but the Ascot clerk of the course admitted that a further band of rain, anticipated overnight, might require him to amend the going on the round course from "soft" to "heavy" in places.

With conditions playing to his proven strengths, Cirrus Des Aigles was trimmed to 9-2 from 5-1 by Coral yesterday. Frankel remained 1-6, but was trading at 2-7 on Betfair.