Two-horse race as trainers set for battle of four-year-olds
The Classic Mile may be a month away, but the stage has already been set for the first of the four-year-old Group Ones and it looks like John Moore might have a worthy rival in John Size, at least in the first of them.
Moore's yard is again bristling with serious four-year-old talent - Captain Sweet, Admiration, Smart Giant and Zaidan are well under way with their careers and will form the front line for Moore in the Classic Mile.
Captain Sweet and Admiration have the advantage of having already been blooded and well battle-seasoned in high-level company, a strategy which will serve them well when they revert to their own age group at level weights. Smart Giant and Zaidan haven't had the same exposure yet but certainly look the real thing in their passage through lesser grades.
Moore's usual strong line in new European imports looks unlikely to make a strong impact on the Classic Mile, which takes place around the time they will be just starting out and victory there would require a Collection-like arrival on the scene, if in fact they take that path.
Once we get through January, Moore's team will undoubtedly start to make a bigger impact and he shapes again as a proper force heading towards the Derby.
But Size looks like playing more of a role in the four-year-old events than is usually the case, and the Classic Mile looks like the place he will make base camp.
The very smart Fay Fay has done nothing but suggest he will be a player as he rises in distance, and Size also has a very interesting new import in Cheers Joy - a former Aga Khan-Alain de Royer-Dupre runner who is already a Group Three winner in France and Group One-placed over 2,000m in the Secretariat Stakes in the United States.
But virtually no horse Size has previously produced has had the X-factor like Glorious Days. In recent seasons, maybe Entrapment had it, but impressive young horses like Brave Kid and Sichuan Success, rising strongly through the grades, never looked to have what Glorious Days has got. He may be untested beyond 1,400m, and won't be until the Classic Mile, but if the race was run tomorrow Glorious Days would be a well-deserved favourite after two utterly arrogant wins in recent weeks.
If Size goes to the Chinese Club Challenge Cup on New Year's Day, again over 1,400m, Glorious Days will be a commanding favourite again and may arrive at the Classic Mile with a handicapper's rating in the higher 110-120 range if he can produce another similar victory.
Despite his championship wins - and this season's title already has the look of number seven for the Australian trainer - Size has endured a drought at the top end of racing in recent years. Sight Winner's surprise 2009 Champions Mile was his most recent strike at the elite level, and before that it was Armada's Stewards' Cup, almost five years ago.
Prior to that, Size had been a regular in the winner's stall after majors with flag bearers like Electronic Unicorn, Grand Delight, Super Kid and River Dancer, but their more recent heirs, Unique Jewellery, More Bountiful and Enthused, for various reasons haven't been able to graduate to winning Group One races.
With Entrapment obviously going to be a leading player at that level in the domestic sprint races in the New Year, as well as his up-and-coming four-year-olds, there is every reason to think that trend is going to change and we will see Size taking Group Ones again.