Sport

St Nicholas Abbey, the Classic flop who became the winner of six Group One races and the highest-earning runner in the history of Ballydoyle, lost his battle with chronic health problems when he had to be put down after an attack of colic.

Joseph O'Brien must settle Camelot in a big Guineas field today

Camelot fairy tale could be foiled by Oxx

Born To Sea will test O'Brien's hot favourite as trainer aims for Newmarket Classic double

Colour Vision (right) won at Kempton yesterday

Godolphin aim for Classics on two continents

Though the stable has failed to muster a starter in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday, the changing complexion of Godolphin still leaves much to anticipate. For one thing, Mahmood al-Zarooni has two strong chances in the fillies' Classic the following day, in Discourse and Lyric Of Light, a year after sealing his promotion to supervise a yard in his own right through Blue Bunting – who was relieving a Godolphin drought, in both the early Classics, going back to 2002.

Mahmood Al Zarooni tests his Classic fillies at Newmarket today

Regal Realm to hold sway in Nell Gwyn

After such a miserable experience at Aintree, it will come as a profound relief for the Turf community to turn its gaze today upon a featureless Suffolk plain. Not that the Rowley Mile is entirely flat. In fact, it is precisely the opportunity to acquaint potential Classic candidates with the Dip – even as a race enters its decisive phase – that gives the Craven meeting its purpose. That is most obviously true of those whose rehearsals qualify them to return in barely a fortnight, for the Guineas, but will also apply to some whose target is instead the Investec Derby over the rollercoaster at Epsom.

Synchronised (white cap) blunders

Racing's rulers will struggle to find the courage to keep this showpiece going

After slipping down the scree of the moral high ground last year, the world's most famous steeplechase finds itself clinging ever more precariously to past glories.

Mickael Barzalona leaps off Monterosso after their Dubai World Cup win

Barzalona has the world at his feet for Godolphin

In the event, it was not Chantal Sutherland who would make the most insistent stand on behalf of the rights of the female. Entering the tunnel between the saddling ring and paddock, owners and trainers escorting runners in the world's richest race suddenly found themselves obliged to stand and wait on the clarion instructions of Sheikh Mohammed's four-year-old daughter, Al Jalila. Her mortified mother, Princess Haya, hastened back to remonstrate; but the little sheikha had achieved her purpose and, to general amusement, was able to hurtle gaily down the vacated chute beneath the grandstand. It would prove only the prelude to a race of similarly unfettered celebration.

Camelot and Joseph O’Brien gallop at the Curragh yesterday

Flat season dawns with O'Brien firmly in saddle

Early days, but already it is hard to resist the promise of many excitements ahead. The very first winner of a new turf season on the Flat – which began in Ireland yesterday, and opens in Britain on Saturday – had the decided look of a Royal Ascot two-year-old. And it would be fairly astonishing if the various Ballydoyle three-year-olds who then stretched their legs, after racing at the Curragh, failed to muster a Classic between them.

Like a train: Premio Loco (left) wins yesterday's Winter Derby at Lingfield

Premio Loco steams in to avenge his Derby defeat

For Flat racing fans, that business at Aintree that has to be consigned to the formbook before full attention focuses on the purest form of the sport is frustratingly delayed this year; because of the religious calendar, no Grand National will ever have been run on a later date than this year's, on 14 April.

Richard Hannon’s Cai Shen is well backed but Circumvent has value

Sunny all-weather outlook for Circumvent

An exciting week for Flat racing kicks off with the climax of the Polytrack season: the Winter Derby card at Lingfield

Kevin Doyle completes unlikely comeback for Wolves at Newcastle

Newcastle 2 Wolves 2

Silvestre De Sousa will have his first rides in his new job for Godolphin at Meydan today

Godolphin recruit De Sousa as potential heir to Dettori

Two fairly momentous new chapters open on the Turf today. On the home front, an amended penalty structure is introduced ahead of the latest, dizzying revision to the whip rules. In Dubai, meanwhile, Silvestre De Sousa rides for Godolphin for the first time since accepting a post that accelerates his giddy rise through the ranks.

Al Zarooni: Elite Carnival team

Cosmopolitan caravan rolls into Dubai for Carnival time

These midwinter weeks, albeit proving rather milder than last year, to the significant benefit of the Levy, are invariably the bleakest in the Turf calendar. Many Cheltenham contenders are taking a break, leaving a suitably dim, half-lit quality to the January programme. It is with corresponding envy, then, that those jockeys shivering at Wolverhampton today will look up to the monitors in the weighing room and see various colleagues riding at the opening meeting of the 2012 Dubai Carnival.

Harvard N Yale is just edged out by Cavaleiro in a two-year-old contest at Newbury in September

Harvard N Yale out for a Kentucky first

It may sound sacrilegious, as Kauto Star seeks another piece of Turf history at Kempton on Boxing Day, but something equally momentous might conceivably get under way 15 minutes earlier – in a £3,500 race at Wolverhampton. Few will be paying the slightest attention to Harvard N Yale, not least with the holiday programme over jumps apparently secured by a mild weather forecast. Unlikely as it seems, however, this young colt will be taking the first tentative steps towards a summit never yet scaled from this side of the Atlantic.

Maybe's Curragh cruise creates Guineas certainty

It was a rollercoaster sort of weekend in the emotion stakes. There was the crushing disappointment of the retirement from racing of Derby winner Pour Moi, injured during routine exercise in Chantilly. There was the bittersweet defeat of US star Uncle Mo, denied in the last stride at Saratoga on his comeback from a life-threatening illness. There was sheer delight as eight-year-old Marchand d'Or rolled back the years at Deauville. And even Maybe's thoroughly straightforward and professional success at the Curragh in yesterday's top contest, the Moyglare Stud Stakes, had a gut-wrenching twist to it.

All systems go for Uncle Mo's comeback

A fairly pedestrian programme on British soil should prompt even the most insular into a brief glance across the Atlantic this weekend, where no fewer than seven Grade One races will establish the lie of the land for the European raiders at the Breeders' Cup this autumn. As things stand, the consensus remains that the American three-year-olds have failed to achieve a vintage standard – and that it could prove a very good year to take on the home team at their own game, on dirt in the Classic.

Twice value to outshine Midday and Dawn

The maddening reality, for those seeking to contrive a formal narrative for the calendar, is that the ancestral peregrinations of the Victorian gentry have bequeathed one pretty hard to improve on. After taking in Epsom and Royal Ascot during the London season, and Goodwood in time for Cowes, they would suspend the persecution of grouse on the nearby moors for a spot of racing at York. That legacy is cherished by all those, from every rank of society, to whom the Ebor meeting remains a delightful ritual of the sporting summer.

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