Grounds for concern over weekend racing
Deteriorating conditions, either side of the Channel, promise anything but a level playing field for the top-class sport scheduled over the next three days.
After finally confirming Workforce an intended runner in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, connections sounded optimistic yesterday that the Derby winner would cope with the testing conditions expected at Longchamp on Sunday. But soft ground raises questions about some of contenders for the Shadwell Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket today.
The trainer who is surely rubbing his hands is David Simcock, who saddled Dream Ahead for the biggest success of his career to date in the Prix Morny in August and remains entitled to further progress.
Another trainer seeking a breakthrough is Ed McMahon, who saddles Temple Meads. He has won on easy ground, but his energies needed conserving to last this trip at Newbury last time and he has so much speed that an emphasis on stamina seems unlikely to suit.
Approve has Group-race runs on the board, but the key horse is surely Strong Suit.
The outrageous fashion of his Royal Ascot success means that the form — which does not look terribly robust now — need not be taken too literally.
Strong Suit may simply have seen too much daylight in Ireland last time, and Richard Hughes will doubtless return to more patient tactics today. The potential doubt about the ground would seem adequately factored into odds of around 3-1.
Each way odds against Sharnberry permit speculation that her strong maiden form offers an base for this step up in class.
As for Workforce, he remained among 22 with their hats still in the Arc ring yesterday.