Anyone sensitive to the nuances that distinguish the very best trainers will view James Fanshawe's season not merely with frustration, as he does himself, but with a sense of downright outrage.
On the eve of the Newmarket July Festival, one of the genuine artists of his calling has just half a dozen winners to his name. But it is precisely through his patience that horses flourish in a way they might not elsewhere.
And yesterday he sounded far more despondent about recession in the sport at large than his own, present exasperations — which could, after all, conceivably be redressed in either of the Group One races staged on his home racecourse this week.
Spacious, who tackles the Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes tomorrow, and Society Rock, who goes for the Darley July Cup on Friday, perfectly condensed their stable's season at Royal Ascot last month. Fanshawe ran only three horses at the meeting, and each produced a career best.
But Spacious was beaten a short head, the pair clear, in the Windsor Forest Stakes; and Society Rock cut down all bar Starspangledbanner, who had broken clear along the stands rail, when 50-1 for the Golden Jubilee Stakes.
Society Rock had impressed on his reappearance and Fanshawe reproaches himself for turning him too quickly when subsequently beaten at Newbury.
And he has faced pretty much the same dilemma this time, with an interval of only 20 days.
“I must admit I was nervous that Ascot might have taken a lot out of him, as a three-year-old,” he said. “But all the signs are that he has taken his race very well. It would be nice to find the easy option, but really that's what we tried to do at Newbury.
“And you have to remember that the horses weren't running well at that time. It's not a horrible cold spring now, it's the height of summer and he looks nice and bright. He's eating everything and while he's not the most impressive in his homework, we gave him a spin on Friday and everyone was happy. Of course, the draw could be an issue, and he'll need luck, especially with his style of racing. But he looks jolly well.”
Fanshawe made light of the proximity of the meetings by winning the Falmouth in 2003, 2004 and 2005, albeit with mature fillies. “We won it with Soviet Song after she got beat in the Queen Anne, and with Macadamia after she won the Hunt Cup,” he remembered. “And Spacious ran well last year [beaten a length by Goldikova after winning at Ascot].”
She will be ridden by Kieren Fallon, Johnny Murtagh having been claimed for Lillie Langtry. But there is a doubt over Special Duty's jockey: Stephane Pasquier is already sidelined while his replacement, Christophe Lemaire, was injured in France yesterday.