It was billed as an Arc trial, but it seems unlikely that any of the horses who competed in yesterday's feature at Newbury will actually contest Europe's richest turf race at Longchamp next month. Campanologist, Godolphin's gutsy runner, finished third to Doctor Fremantle and Look Here, improving drastically from the last time he met the Sir Michael Stoute-trained galloper when coming eighth, 12-and-a-half lengths behind that horse in the Group Two Princess of Wales Stakes at Newmarket.
He would have gained confidence when winning the Winter Hill Stakes over the Gary Moore-trained Bankable last month, and that form has been franked by Bankable's recent win at Sandown. But there is still the suspicion that Campanologist has reached his level. The day belonged to Ryan Moore aboard Doctor Fremantle, who took the honours with an exquisitely-timed run from the rear to reel in Frankie Dettori and Campanologist and Look Here. She had been absent from racing since finishing sixth in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
It would not have been a comfortable race for the watching Stoute or Saudi Arabian owner, Khalid Abdullah, as Moore, 25 yesterday, left it until the last minute to make his move. With last year's Epsom Oaks winner, Look Here, and Campanologist in an all-out duel for the line, Moore cooly switched Doctor Fremantle into space out wide and proceeded to find another gear to nail Look Here, trained by Ralph Beckett, in the final stride - winning by a nose.
There is little doubt the calibre of horses running in the group three contest was somewhat higher. But whether any will be good enough for the Group One Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, remains to be seen. Moore, notching his 150th victory of the season, admitted his ride was a "solid Group Two horse". "He does well in photos and I wanted to keep him under cover," said Moore, explaining his decision to hold up at the back. "I tried to squeeze through the gap but it wasn't happening so I switched. He picked up really well.
"He's won his last three Group Three races this year and is a rock-solid Group Two horse and nearly a group one horse." Today sees the younger generation go on trial for possible Classic honours next year in the Group Two Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes. Dubai's Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's able two-year-old, Awzaan, takes on seven. Slated for the race, the Richard Hannon-trained Dick Turpin, unbeaten in four runs, will not start. Hannon, who said his entry would depend on there being rain, is not short on talented juveniles, however, and will instead saddle Angel's Pursuit.
Awzaan, trained by Mark Johnston and ridden by Michael Hills, must be looking good for the run with an unblemished record in two starts, the most recent a fast-run contest at Newmarket when he beat a field of nine winners. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org