Godolphin's Alpha and Sajjhaa form a twin-pronged assault on two of the biggest prizes on offer on both sides of the Atlantic today.
Alpha takes his chance in the ultra-competitive Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap at Saratoga against Fort Larned, the Breeders' Cup Classic winner, as well as Mucho Macho Man and Ron The Greek, who were second and fourth, respectively, at Santa Anita.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since that night in California in November, and where Fort Larned has added to his haul at the highest level by winning the Stephen Foster Handicap, sponsored by Abu Dhabi, in June, Alpha has trod water.
Since finishing 45 lengths adrift to Fort Larned at the Breeders' Cup, Alpha bombed on his comeback in Round 2 of the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan Racecourse in February for Saeed bin Suroor before putting up a respectable performance to finish fifth to Soft Falling Rain in the Godolphin Mile in March.
The four-year-old colt then returned to America and was fourth of five runners in a Grade 2 handicap last month for previous trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
Alpha will be ridden by the Dubai World Cup-winning rider Joel Rosario.
"He looks fabulous and is training very well, but I've found him an awful tough spot to put him in," McLaughlin told HRTV. "We really did see a difference in his training since he came to Saratoga and he is happier and working faster here. We hope that the other horses have a B day and we have an A-plus day, because it is hard for us to beat these horses."
The Whitney Invitational is a win-and-you're-in race for the Breeders' Cup Classic, one of two races today that acts as a feeder for the self-styled world championships. The Clement L Hirsch Stakes for fillies, at Del Mar overnight, is the other and acts a launch pad for the Ladies' Classic.
The Nassau Stakes at Goodwood is not a feeder race for Santa Anita but Sajjhaa still faces a severe test on her first start since running fourth to Military Attack in Hong Kong in April.
The Dubai Duty Free winner faces 14 rivals, including Sky Lantern, who was controversially edged out of the Falmouth Stakes by the subsequent Group 1 winner Elusive Kate, and will be ridden by man of the moment Richard Hughes.
It is the biggest field assembled since the race was inaugurated in 1840 and around the twists and turns of Goodwood jockey Silvestre de Sousa is going to have to be at his best if Bin Suroor is to add to his only previous win in the 10-furlong event, that coming in 1999 with Zaharat Dubai.
"Sajjhaa has been working nicely, and I have been pleased with her preparation," Bin Suroor said. "She should be fine over a mile-and-a-quarter at Goodwood.
"It looks a tough contest but she is a dual Group 1 winner and has earned her place.
"I am hoping for a good run."
MOVIESTA EMERGES AS THREAT TO SHEA SHEA
Shea Shea has a new rival to beat in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes after Moviesta spread-eagled the field in the King George Stakes on Friday.
Mike de Kock’s Al Quoz Sprint winner remains on course for the Group 1 sprint at York in three weeks’ time, but on the evidence of yesterday’s performance Sole Power, his old rival, will not be the only one standing in his way.
Moviesta may have wandered in the final furlong and caused interference to Swiss Spirit, the runner-up, but was full value for his length-and-a-half success. Ortensia won the King George Stakes last season en route to taking the Nunthorpe, and trainer Bryan Smart was confident of a big run in the north of England.
“He’s in the Nunthorpe and he would be meeting a lot of the same horses,” Smart said. “He’ll be in training next year and I promise you this is a very good sprinter, indeed.
“We’ve got something right on our hands this time.”
Moviesta is owned in part by Harry Redknapp, the Queens Park Rangers football manager, and it was a hat-trick for footballing owners this week.
Magic City won for the former Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, on Wednesday, and Brown Panther won the Goodwood Cup on Thursday for Michael Owen.
It was not all rosy, however, as the jockey Paul Mulrennan received a six-day ban for his part in Moviesta’s interference.
The rider was simply delighted to register his first win at Goodwood.
“He’s only three and you don’t know how good he could be,” Mulrennan said. “He was a real missile.”