Back in 1965, John Gosden's father, Towser, caused something of a scandal here when he and a minor actress embraced after the late trainer's Charlottown had won the Solario Stakes on an early edition of the annual Variety Club fund- raising day at the races. Yesterday, as his own charge Foss Way stood panting in the winners' circle after the seven-furlong contest, Gosden fils looked askance at a troupe of scantily clad wannabes lined up in the presentation party.
"I can't remember the name of the actress," he said, "but I can remember how shocked everyone was when my father and she exchanged a kiss after she gave him one of the prizes, a box of chocolates tied up with a red velvet ribbon. It was held up to be an example of how standards in the sport were going downhill."
Nearly four decades on, it takes much more to frighten the horses, but Gosden declined to pucker up. And some things never change as racing and showbiz meet in the cause of "char-i-dee". It was as difficult to put a name to many of the so-called celebs parading in front of the cameras as Gosden found it to recall that unknown actress.
Whether or not Sheikh Mohammed's Foss Way will achieve real celebrity, only time will tell. Charlottown was the last Solario Stakes winner to go on to win the Derby and, although the last subsequent Classic winner to score was Oh So Sharp 18 years ago, the race's record as a pointer to above-average ability is respectable enough in recent seasons – Best Of The Bests beat Sarafan in 1999, Storming Home finished second the following year and, 12 months ago, the winner Redback, third in the 2,000 Guineas this spring, had St Leger favourite Bandari back in seventh.
After beating Sweet Return a head, with Dhabyan and St Pancras on their heels, Foss Way, ridden by Jimmy Fortune, had to survive a lengthy stewards' inquiry to take the spoils. The principals all came from off the pace and there was some jostling for daylight.Foss Way, an attractive chestnut by Desert Prince, holds all the right entries for one with his pretensions. "I should think he'll run again this year," said Gosden. "He's a good sort of colt with the right attitude to his job, but he needs more education."
Dhabyan, whose sire Silver Hawk won the race in 1981, suffered most of the ill-fortune in running. "I think he should have won," said his trainer Ben Hanbury, "but at least I know I've got a nice dark horse for next year's Derby."
The Solario Stakes may not, these days, be a certain supplier of future names to conjure with, but the main juvenile race of the weekend, today's Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh, certainly is. Over the past decade, no fewer than a dozen subsequent individual Group or Grade One heroines have emerged from the fields for the seven-furlong contest, the first of the season at the top level confined to fillies.
Aidan O'Brien's bid for a hat-trick, after success with Sequoyah and Quarter Moon, was ruled out yesterday when his well-fancied contender Reach For The Moon succumbed to the coughing that has blighted Ballydoyle recently.
Her defection leaves the home defence headed by Danaskaya, trained by Jim Bolger. The Danehill filly will test the value of Russian Rhythm's Lowther Stakes form, having chased home the 1,000 Guineas favourite in the York race.
There has not been a British winner of the Curragh contest for five years. John Gosden's charge Pearl Dance and Mail The Desert (Mick Channon) challenge today, with the former, narrowly beaten in the Cherry Hinton Stakes last time, perceived the better. "Perhaps that Russian Rhythm form is a cut above us," said Gosden, "but she may have been unlucky at Newmarket and the step up in trip will suit. We've freshened her up since then and she's in good form and even a little piece of a Group One race will do us fine."
Today's other Group One action is at Baden-Baden, where Godolphin's Marienbard takes on seven rivals, headed by Boreal, in the Grosser Preis von Baden, the German round of the World Series.
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