It is nearly 300 years since the birth of Flying Childers, and his contemporary reputation as "the fleetest horse ever bred" no longer bears much scrutiny. It seems that he contested a grand total of two matches, one over four miles in 1721 and another over six in 1722. As such, there could scarcely be a greater contrast in the young sprinters seeking to crown a busy first season by winning the race named in his honour at York today.
Nobody deserves the prize more than the trainer of Wi Dud. After showing a Midas touch at the top level last season, Kevin Ryan has not mustered a single Group race this time round. Instead he has endured an exasperating series of near misses, eight of his 20 runners in British Group races finishing second or third.
Wi Dud himself has twice contributed to that sequence since an arresting debut over course and distance in June. He confirmed his natural speed when coasting downhill in the Molecomb at Goodwood, foiled by Enticing only in the most desperate of photos. Stepped up in trip for the Gimcrack here last month, he looked sure to win entering the final furlong, only to succumb close home to Conquest.
Admittedly, that may not have been a vintage Gimcrack, but the winner is a colt of unusual talent, and was ridden by Jimmy Fortune at his most unyielding. Wi Dud should be suited by the drop back in trip and sets the standard for Hoh Mike, whose unlucky run at Royal Ascot has since been advertised by the winner, Dutch Art. He has been given a break since disappointing next time, but he made his name on lively tracks early in the season, whereas Wi Dud (2.05) showed himself very much at home on dead ground here last time.
Today is also a home game for Sergeant Cecil, who has been beaten by only one horse in three previous visits to York and will be well suited by the transfer of the GNER Doncaster Cup here. He has obvious prospects after beating many of these in the Lonsdale Cup last month, but the bookmakers know that too and it may be worth taking a chance on Souvenance (3. …