His many admirers would not be short of reasons to celebrate a first trainers' championship for John Gosden, who yesterday nosed his way past Aidan O'Brien at the top of the prize money table. Even beyond his skill, decency and intelligence, however, they might treasure the certainty that not one Clarehaven horse will be declared to run this autumn with Gosden's title challenge in mind.
In scrupulously serving the interests of his patrons, in fact, the big man will instead be reserving plenty of ammunition for overseas targets during the final weeks of the season. Of course, O'Brien will have greater priorities himself, not least after the shock of seeing his Co Tipperary house damaged by fire on Wednesday night. Moreover the engorged prizemoney at Qipco Champions' Day at Ascot next month could well settle the issue in one afternoon. Whatever the outcome, Gosden will be able to look back on an outstanding campaign.
One of its few blemishes was the tragedy that claimed Newfangled, saluted by Gosden as the fastest two-year-old he has trained. The filly suffered a severe pelvic injury at York last month, and had to be put down the following evening. How gratifying it would be, then, were the big race at Newmarket today to identify a filly eligible to take Newfangled's place as a contender for next year's Classics.
The very fact that Gosden has convinced Prince Khaled Abdulla to supplement Winsili warrants plenty of respect in the Shadwell Fillies' Mile. Clearly, a Group One placing for this very well-bred filly would represent an ample return on that investment. But the hot favourite, Certify, has only had a fortnight to get over a taxing race at Doncaster – and hardly has the most obviously robust physique for doing so. And Winsili has laid the foundations for a big step forward in her first two starts, impressing in her maiden and then shaping well against useful rivals at Ascot last time. Held up off a steady pace, she was caught up in traffic as the tempo quickened before closing strongly late on.
Proceedings open with another Group race for young fillies, the Sakhee Oh So Sharp Stakes, where a chance is taken with Certify's stablemate, Power of Light. It is hard to know the substance of her seven-length debut success at Newcastle, but it must count for something that she is fielded here by a stable that specialises in this division.
The other Group prize on the card is the Nayef Joel Stakes, where Most Improved bids to renew his progress after what has proved an exasperating season. Having confirmed his elite calibre at Royal Ascot, he bombed out at Deauville but remains lightly raced overall and can give the maligned Classic generation a rare success against more exposed rivals.
Gosden saddled the winners of two listed races on the opening day of the meeting, but it was the reigning champion trainer, Richard Hannon, who won its first Group prize in the Somerville Tattersall Stakes. Havana Gold, who suffered his only defeat when losing his jockey at Deauville last month, made it four wins in five by reeling in Well Acquainted under a cool ride from Richard Hughes. Reorganising his stride as he left the dip, the winner looked good value for a margin of a length and a half, while his stablemate, Glean, continued his own improvement in third, closing smoothly before keeping on. Havana Gold is plainly one of the ablest two-year-olds around, but Hannon is tempted to bring him back to Newmarket for one of the big sales prizes that so dilute the established Pattern.
Chris McGrath's Nap:
Dick Bos (7.15 Wolverhampton) Has demanded patience but represents a yard in form.
Oxford Charley (4.35 Newmarket) Finally showed his true talent when tried in a visor the other day, just run out of it after leading a furlong out.
One to watch:
Glorious Protector (Ed Walker) did not look out of place among some well bred juveniles at Newmarket yesterday.
Where the money's going:
Maureen is 7-2 from 4-1 with William Hill for the Jaguar Cars Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket tomorrow.