By Kyle Mitcheison
A handful of this season's leading lights cantered up a misty Warren Hill at Newmarket's Open Weekend early on Sunday. Below are updates on each, as well two other established stars who will bid for more Group One glory over the coming weeks.
All eyes were on four-time Group One winner Enable as she worked on Sunday morning, moments after Cracksman, a dual Group 2-winning son of Frankel, had strode out.
The latter’s participation in the Arc is still in the balance, with trainer John Gosden and owner Anthony Oppenheimer yet to reach a decision.
An impressive six-length victor in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, Cracksman followed up in the Prix Niel at Chantilly over the Arc course and distance.
“He's taken the race very well and is in top form,” Gosden said.
Enable has carried all before her this campaign and will seeks to become the seventh filly in the past decade to scoop the prestigious mile and a half contest.
“She enjoys her exercise and training,” said Gosden. “She went up there [to York] we and were able to tick her over, and she won it [Yorkshire Oaks] nicely. She got a little bit bored over the last two furlongs but she took the race very well. We've got her back to her normal weight as horses generally lose a bit.”
This regally-bred son of Galileo has established himself as one of the top Group One performers in Europe.
Although outgunned by Enable in the King George, he has developed a good partnership with champion jockey Jim Crowley, who rode a patient masterclass aboard him to land the Juddmonte International at York last month.
Sir Michael Stoute said: “The Arc is a strong possibility. The Breeders' Cup is five weeks after the Arc and there's plenty of time to prepare him for that. He cantered nicely this morning.”
Ulysses is a general 8-1 shot behind Enable for the Arc.
Members of the Elite Racing Club were jubilant beyond words as Marsha's name was announced over the York Tannoy as winner of the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes.
She pipped the Wesley Ward-trained Lady Aurelia to score by a nose. This gave the daughter of Acclamation a second Group 1 success after her victory in the Prix de l'Abbaye last year.
“When you wind up with visually the top sprinter in the world you're very lucky,” said Sir Mark Prescott.
“She's won her Group One, which is good, and has been a bit unlucky in some of the big races.
“She's quite keen and goes on her own so I've never really had any idea how she is going. You only have an idea of how well she is. When she gets to France she is very good.”
Marsha is a top-priced 3-1 with William Hill for a repeat Abbaye win.
One of racing's most popular performers, Big Orange gave the public and his trainer Michael Bell a moment never to forget as he made all and fended off Order Of St George to scoop the biggest staying prize of all, the Gold Cup.
He subsequently made a valiant attempt to become the first horse to win three successive Goodwood Cups but could not repel the young and improving Stradivarius, who has since gone on to finish a close third in the St Leger.
Bell said: “He's had a particularly good year and obviously the Ascot Gold Cup was the highlight.
“He's in good form. He worked yesterday and I thought he looked as good as ever, if not better. We're hoping to go to Paris first for the Prix Du Cadran and then Champions Day at Ascot for the Long Distance Cup.”
Big Orange is a general 7-2 for the Prix Du Cadran and 9-2 for the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day
The Tin Man
The Tin Man excelled on Champions Day last year, putting to the sword a strong field of sprinters in the hands of regular rider Tom Queally.
The five-year-old also won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and ran an encouraging race last time behind the impressive Harry Angel at Haydock and there's little reason to expect a bold showing again next month at a course he relishes.
“The Tin Man has been fantastic for the yard. Every yard needs a flag bearer - he creates an interest wherever he runs,” said his trainer James Fanshawe.
“He's come out of the Sprint Cup in good form and he seems really well and at this time of the year you hope you can keep them right until Ascot. His record there is very strong and I hope we will have him as good as he was last year.”
The Tin Man is a general 6-1 for the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes