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.
Atlhough the fillies who today test their 1,000 Guineas potential in the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes must wait for an eighth furlong — that will doubtless leave straws for some to clutch afterwards — it looks a highly competitive race regardless.
Frankie Dettori rides Pimpernel, who got closest to a smart prospect in Wading over course and distance last autumn. She did not build on that over the synthetic track at Meydan, however, and Mickael Barzalona could well beat Godolphin's senior rider on Minidress. But while she was most impressive on her debut last summer, she looked more of a middle-distance prospect when fourth over this same stretch on her only subsequent start.
Russelliana also looks the sort to come into her own over farther, so it is auspicious that she could chase home Gamilati — Al Zarooni's top Guineas hope, until a setback last month — over just six furlongs on the July Course last year. Clearly not herself at Ascot thereafter, she was not seen again but a top team has plainly got her up and running with the Guineas in mind.
Starscope remains totally unexposed, after a winning debut over the course last autumn, but meets experienced rivals in what may prove a congested finish. Of these, none has more scope for progress than Regal Realm, who repeatedly suggested herself capable of better after beating Gamilati and Samitar on her debut.
Evidently, she has not grown much over the winter, but she hardly has a precocious pedigree and represents a stable with three three-year-old winners from four starters so far.