Witchry proves éminence grise

Witchry (navy cap, light blue sleeves) gets the better of Billberry and Sunshine Always in the annual charge of the white brigade at Newmarket on Saturday.

The Racing Welfare Grey Horse Handicap, restricted to runners with the eponymous grizzled coat, is a low-grade sprint of little importance in the sport's greater scheme. But it has a certain whimsical charm, as both a striking spectacle and as a homage to a centuries-old heritage.

The genetic inheritance of every grey thoroughbred's colour can be traced back to one grey individual imported to Britain during the early 18th century, the Alcock Arabian. In Witchry's case, that far-distant ancestor is a 26-greats grandsire.