There has been some sort of cloud - let's say wisps of haze - surrounding Michael Stoute's two-horse team, Carlton House and Sea Moon. But those doubts were basically erased yesterday after both horses ran sterling final gallops on the turf track.
Carlton House, soon to be the debut runner in Hong Kong for Queen Elizabeth, was the first horse out among the visitors and looked comfortable doing pacework before sliding home his last 600 metres in 36.8 seconds, the last 400 in 23.3 and final 200 in 10.81. A few hundred metres behind him was stablemate Sea Moon, a tall and athletic horse who is the top-rated performer in the Vase (2,400m). When his turn came, Sea Moon eclipsed his royally connected stablemate, running home his final 600 in 35.6, the last 400 in 22.4 and the final 200 in 10.96.
Both members of the stable of Stoute, the famous Newmarket racing knight, were said to be suffering slight symptoms of travel sickness earlier in the week.
But these pieces of work strongly suggest their trainer has them recalibrated and ready for action. The two British stars were the morning highlights, in terms of fast performance.
But a number of other international race hopefuls sent out positive signals as they did their final preparatory pieces at a slower tempo.
Feuerblitz was methodical in his completion of a strong canter, which merged into pacework at the 800. The German visitor finished it off with a quick final 200 in 11.0, with the undoubted aim of clearing out his wind.
Australian visitor Alcopop, a last-start Group One winner at Flemington on Derby day, did pacework to the 800 peg before running home in 57.5, the last 600 in 40.3 and the final 200 in 12.6.
Bayrir, representing leading French trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, made time for the third straight day, running his final 800 in 58.2. The promising young galloper will be a worthy contender for the Vase.
Meandre, a Vase contender from the 24-time champion stable of France (Andre Fabre), had four days away from the track after travelling poorly.
The white-faced galloper finally did some fast work on the all-weather track, coming home his last 200 in 13.4.