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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Whose side are you on? Paris dream team in opposition for vintage Dewhurst

Too Darn Hot: bids to remain unbeaten in the Dewhurst
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In a nutshell

Races of the season come along so quickly at this time of the year that it’s sometimes difficult to remember who’s on which side.

Just six days ago the Enable team were united in joy after a memorable second Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victory on a historic afternoon at Longchamp.

Now they take each other on in a showdown that’s been anticipated almost as much as the Arc.

John Gosden and Frankie Dettori are again the ones to beat, with the extraordinarily promising Too Darn Hot having captured the imagination like no other two-year-old this season.

But he carries the colours of Lord Lloyd-Webber, whereas the hugely familiar green, pink and white Khalid Abdullah silks will be worn by William Buick on board the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Sangarius in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes.

Enable's owner has won this prize four times and his unbeaten colt looks potentially high-class – but so did Expert Eye, who started 4-7 favourite for Abdullah and Stoute 12 months ago and finished last.

The biggest Classic clues on that day came in the 1m2f Zetland Stakes, in which future St Leger winner Kew Gardens beat Derby second Dee Ex Bee, so keep an eye on Derby entries Norway, Sydney Opera House and Waldstern.

But the most richly rewarded stayer will be the one who lands the Dubai £500,000 Cesarewitch, whose prize fund has been doubled.

The Coral Sprint is the 23rd and final race worth £100,000 or more at York this year and there’s £50,000 on offer in the Silver Trophy Hurdle at Chepstow.

Both races signal winter is on its way and the Flat stars of 2018 will soon be just memories but, as the Enable team will reflect, whatever happens this afternoon, we’ll always have Paris.

Saturday cards and betting

Gosden colt could be too darn hot for rivals

He won a second straight Arc last weekend and could well take a second straight Champion Stakes next weekend, but there’s no rest for a champion trainer.

Indeed, this could be the most exciting Saturday of all for John Gosden, such has been the impression Too Darn Hot has created.

The two-year-old, owned and bred by Lord Lloyd-Webber, is no Enable, Cracksman or Roaring Lion yet. Nor has Gosden ever won the Darley Dewhurst Stakes (Newmarket 3.00), but Too Darn Hot looks every inch a top-notcher in the making. Ask those desperate to get their hands on his bloodline at Newmarket sales last Wednesday, when a bidding frenzy forced his younger brother's price up to 3.5 million guineas – the most expensive yearling of the year.

Pure theatre: Too Darn Hot's brother a box office smash at 3,500,000gns

A star was born when he produced an astonishing mid-race burst to turn impending defeat into glorious victory in the Champagne Stakes at the St Leger meeting.

Then again Sangarius was almost as impressive in Listed company at the same course 24 hours earlier and will be a serious contender for a race his trainer Sir Michael Stoute last won with Ajdal in 1986.

Aidan O’Brien is the man to beat in the Dewhurst nowadays with four of the last five winners – including the last three – and his National Stakes second Anthony Van Dyck looks a smart contender for a race whose last four winners were all crowned Europe’s champion two-year-old.

Not that Europe is the limit any more. US Navy Flag won for Ballydoyle 12 months ago and tackles the £7 million Everest at Randwick in Australia early on Saturday morning.

Biggest noise from down under has been the hoo-haa when the draw for the world's richest turf race was projected on to the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

Thousands of protesters apparently turned up to express their outrage.

Which will have coincidence backers convinced the Zetland Stakes must go to Royal Lodge Stakes second Sydney Opera House, a progressive son of Australia, obviously.

Sydney Opera House forced to display racing silks on sails after advertising row

It could be Mullins . . .

Lottery sales go up when there’s a big rollover and it’s no surprise the Cesarewitch is an even bigger draw now it’s worth £500,000 (Newmarket 3.40).

That makes it more valuable than all bar one race at the Cheltenham Festival, and top trainer Willie Mullins has taken the hint and bought no fewer than seven 'tickets' as he bids to land the jackpot.

Beaten Ebor favourite Stratum and 2016 Cheltenham winner Limini are his principal fancies on a day when there will actually be two Cesarewitch winners at Newmarket.

Darley Sun, triumphant in 2009 and now a showjumper, is part of the Retraining of Racehorses parade before racing which celebrates horses' second careers.

In Pursuit of a big prize

Arc runner-up Sea Of Class is not the only horse whose backers have been left cursing the draw after a big race recently.

The Tim Easterby-trained Flying Pursuit was a leading fancy for the Ayr Gold Cup and led throughout on the far side.

But you didn’t read about Rachel Richardson becoming the first woman to win Scotland’s biggest Flat race because the main action was taking place on the stands' rail.

Her mount finished third overall, having started from stall four and been the only horse drawn lower than 16 to make the first six.

However, Richardson could become the second woman in three years to win the £100,000 Coral Sprint Trophy (York 3.15), after Shelley Birkett on Intisaab in 2016, as Flying Pursuit bids for compensation off the same mark on the last day of the course's season.

He’s drawn 19 of 20, with stablemate Staxton in 16, but Easterby also has Golden Apollo in stall one if low numbers have the edge this time.

Pride of Wales back out again

Chepstow's Silver Trophy meeting is a sign the jumps season is starting to get serious and it's time to welcome back some familiar faces and, possibly, see a star of the future.

Grade 1-winning hurdler Poetic Rhythm is among five contenders in the Smerdon Tree Services Novices' Chase (3.35) bidding to join the list of past winners headed by the peerless Cue Card.

That star jumper is now retired but the 11-year-old Court Minstrel, probably the best hurdler trained in Wales in recent times, is back to bid for another victory in the feature event (4.45) he took in 2015 and 2017.

Even older and more familiar are the jockeys taking part in the Jump Legends Charity Race, including Charlie Mann and Kevin Mooney who both retired from the saddle more than a quarter of a century ago.

Timmy Murphy and Andrew Thornton, making their debuts in a big fundraiser for the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, have been gone barely a quarter of a year and may be more of the age to enjoy the promised '90s and Noughties' after-party.

Honouring a legend

On a day when historical happenstance means Newmarket stages feature races named in the 19th century after a stud and the heir to the Russian throne, Limerick remembers a true racing great.

The Martin Molony Stakes (2.45), established 15 years ago, honours the remarkable six-time champion jockey who won three Irish Grand Nationals and three Irish Classics.

He also crammed a Cheltenham Gold Cup victory and a third place in the Derby into a career cut short by injury at just 26, although the man described by his son as 'Johnny Murtagh and Ruby Walsh rolled into one' was 91 when he died last year.

Neither Murtagh nor Walsh is involved in this Listed 1m4f affair but top Flat rider Kevin Manning, who dabbled as a jump jockey for one winter, looks to have every chance on Irish St Leger fourth Twilight Payment.

A rare breed: top dual-purpose jockey Martin Molony dies aged 91

Amazing Blue bids for transatlantic glory 

Tune in to Woodbine to see the latest chapter in the remarkable story of Thundering Blue.

The striking grey was beaten in his first nine races yet such have been the huge strides he’s taken since then that he’s likely to go off favourite for the Canadian International (10.41).

Canadian International for Thundering Blue after flawless first foreign foray

Last year’s beaten favourite for the Cambridgeshire has improved significantly, as he showed when third behind Roaring Lion in the Juddmonte International.

And he has every chance of scoring a landmark victory for Sussex-based Frenchman David Menuisier, a former assistant to Criquette Head and John Dunlop who is in his fifth year doing the job he wanted from the age of seven.

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He won a second straight Arc last weekend and could take a second straight Champion Stakes next weekend but there’s no rest for a champion trainer
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