Jamie Lynch looks ahead to the big stories that could be played out at Newmarket on Wednesday...
With the higher-rated fillies coming in well under winning standards, the Nell Gwyn certainly looks ripe for something springing from leftish field, much as Hot Snap did last year, and Folk Melody is identical in profile to her...
A big day for...
No amount of Vanish/Cillit Bang concoction can fully remove the perpetual stains from when Godolphin was dragged - or dragged itself - through the mud at this time last year, but the mighty machine pounded its way through that season, and the recent Dubai Carnival, in familiar fashion. The shooting stars in Britain were quite few and Farhh between, but the fireworks in Dubai were extensive: in other words, the usual Godolphin script.
This meeting marks the start proper of a new season, though, and there are several specific reasons why this is a big day for Godolphin. Firstly, there's Folk Melody in the Nell Gwyn. Charlie Appleby has two in the race, and Majeyda has achieved the more, near the top of the Nell Gwyn ratings, but at the Champions Series launch last week, when talking about Folk Melody, he had that longing look in his eye that only schoolboys get when singling out targets for a Valentine's Day card.
With the higher-rated fillies coming in well under winning standards, the Nell Gwyn certainly looks ripe for something springing from leftish field, much as Hot Snap did last year, and Folk Melody is identical in profile to her, as a once-raced impressive maiden winner with plenty to recommend her on pedigree (out of Grade 1-winner Folk Opera).
Goldolphin already has one to the forefront of the 1000 Guineas betting in Ihtimal, for whom it's a big day because her Dubai form goes under scrutiny via Wedding Ring in the Tattersalls Millions Sprint. Having landed two Tattersalls juvenile races, over six and seven furlongs, last autumn, Wedding Ring won on her Dubai debut prior to finishing fourth, beaten over five lengths, behind Ithimal in the UAE 1000 Guineas, though that trip might have been beyond her.
She's the standard setter, if exposed with it, while there are several lurkers amongst the colts who could come back a different proposition this year, chiefly Scrutiny and Naadirr, but stall 13 puts Wedding Ring right against the stand rail, a potential advantage allied to her track craft.
Two other horses make it a big day for the boys in blue, starting with Portamento, Godolphin's first two-year-old runner of the season. It's a novice event, and Portamento has to go up against previous winners Abscent Friends and Flyball, as well as Harry Hurricane who shaped very well right behind Flyball at Leicester, but none - not even the Qatar Racing juvenile introduced by David Brown, Mind of Madness - can match his breeding, by Shamardal out of a US Grade 1 winner.
It's a pedigree that suggests Portamento will need more time and distance, but he's an important guide for Godolphin to judge what they've got as far as early juveniles. And then there's True Story, in at the deep end on the face of it, but the Fielden Stakes is like the Nell Gwyn in that a) spelling it leads to some self-doubt and b) those who achieved the most as two-year-olds aren't that convincing.
So strong is True Story's maiden form that he's not far behind the ratings principals anyway, beaten only by Outstrip on his debut, before returning to Newmarket three weeks later to make short work of nine rivals that included as many as five next-time-out winners, amongst them Expert and Postponed, both now rated in the 100s.
The fact he looks a bit of a beast, as strong as he is big, is another meaningful recommendation for True Story, and being by Manduro he'll relish this longer trip.
A big day for...
Standing entries in the Dante and Derby say plenty, and if Munjaz is to head down that road then he'll have to win the ten-furlong maiden by a street, which is about a 2/9 shot given he's trained by John Gosden.
One of our Fifty to Follow, included because he looks the type to take off this year, Munjaz ran in two of the hottest maidens of 2013, when he was beaten only by Godolphin horses, looking every inch a smart three-year-old in the making (rangy son of Sea The Stars), and talk of the Derby - or at least a Derby trial - mightn't sound so far-fetched come 5.15.
A big day for...
THAT IS THE SPIRIT
If Provident Spirit wins the first, which he will because he's trained by JG, then David O'Meara can start getting all the more excited about That Is The Spirit, the horse who smashed him up at Doncaster.
It's always hard to tell in early-season maidens whether something is as good as it looks, but That Is The Spirit barely came off the bridle to burn off Provident Spirit and co that day, promising to prove better than a handicapper, but O'Meara isn't in the game of passing up lenient marks, his being 85...for now.
A big two days for...
Sons and daughters. First the son, Obliterator in the Feilden, and then the older daughter, Just The Judge in the Earl of Sefton on Thursday. Faraday Light is the dam of both, and where paternal pride has dimmed in Just The Judge, it's burning bright for Obliterator, who has aced his homework if the rumours are true.
For Obliterator, and his Feilden foe True Story, and for everyone who loves Flat racing, this really is a big day.