There may be a lot of potential but it is proven ability and grizzled experience that generally prevails at the Royal Hunt Cup. Ascot's straight mile handicap is always a fierce contest, a tradition set out in the inaugural running in 1843 when there was a triple dead-heat for second place. There are 30 runners set to line up in this afternoon's cavalry charge, and the hurly-burly generated by such a spectacle is no hiding place for a thoroughbred wet behind the ears.
And yet, the Princess Haya-owned Cadre, who has raced just five times, is well-fancied for the £100,000 (Dh600,000) prize. That lack of familiarity with the racetrack is certainly something that concerns Cadre's trainer, John Gosden. "Inexperience is the big question mark for him," he said yesterday. "He hasn't been the most straightforward colt to train, and at times he has lacked self-confidence. I'd say he is a bit delicate."
The Hunt Cup is the feature handicap of the day, but those thrilled by the three consecutive Group 1 races that opened yesterday's card will be looking to the centrepiece of today's action, the Prince of Wales' Stakes. The 10-furlong contest used to be farmed by Godolphin. Dubai Millennium, Fantastic Light and Grandera all won in succession from 2000. This time, Saeed bin Suroor relies on Trincot, the heavily-campaigned four-year-old, who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori.
The son of Peintre Celebre has showcased his talent around the world, but last time he found the sights and sounds of Rome a little too much. He wandered under pressure across the Capannelle and finished second behind Selmis in the Premio Presidente Della Repubblica. Trincot faces a tall order today, pitted against red-hot favourite, Tartan Bearer, and last year's French Derby winner, Vision D'Etat. But with Ascot bathed in sunshine yesterday, it is the weather that could be Trincot's worst enemy.
"Trincot has put in all of his best performances on soft ground," said Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager. "We'll make a decision in the morning if he runs.". If the impression is that the Dubai-based operation are tilting towards the windmills in this race, then in the Group 3 Jersey Stakes, the day's opening race, they hold a strong hand with Ashram, and the high-class Donativum. The latter is a strapping grey gelding who improved with every run last year, and his juvenile season culminated with a win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on the parched turf of Santa Anita. With the ground riding to the liking of both horses, it is interesting to note that Dettori has decided to ride the colt Ashram, leaving the Donativum for Ted Durcan.
Crisford intimated that Donativum might need further than today's seven-furlong trip, and that as a gelding, the draw of stud fees, and entry into certain Group races, has been lost. It seems therefore that is it Ashram's potential that has been the deciding factor for Dettori and Godolphin here. Adding to the mix are Sheikh Hamdan's twin attempts to see his colours carry off a second successive victory with Infiraad and Ouqba. Aqlaam, trained by William Haggas, did the business for the owner 12 months ago and now Lambourn handler Barry Hills supplies his two runners.