The flat season started with the Lincoln a couple of weeks ago, and a number of trial races at Sandown and Newmarket have taken place, but with the Whitbread and Punchestown going on as well it had been a little hard to get into the swing of it.
The winter months had been spent savouring the Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls duel and the superstars such as Sprinter Sacre regaining their crown, but for me there has been this little nagging in the background (and no it was not the wife).
Is Air Force Blue as good as they say ?
A genuine group one performer at two, he blew them away in the Dewhurst, but again there was a little doubt. Did Emotionless run his race ?
The first classic of the season was going to be the acid test and without the ante post danger Emotionless in the field he lined up a short price favourite to cement his place at the head of the ratings. In the preliminaries everything seemed ok and he took up a decent enough position in the race, with Galileo Gold bowling along infront with Massaat and First Selection always prominent. The order remained largely the same until Frankie struck for home on Galileo Gold. He appeared to go soon enough and Galileo Gold started to drift over to the stands rail, he had however put the race to bed in a matter of strides and the Frankie had time for a long celebration heading to the line. Massaat had run a game race staying on stoutly all the way to the line, but he had once again filled the runner up spot in a group One on the Rowley Mile.
So where was Air Force Blue? Ryan had been niggling along some way out and once the tempo quickened the cupboard was bare. Ryan Moore telling Aidan O'Brien "he didn't feel anything like the horse he was last year"
The quotes we have had so far from Aidan O'Brien have been along the lines of "perhaps I over-trained him but ultimately no one has died", scant consolation I am sure for the army of people that piled in over the winter following all of the glowing reports that have been coming from the camp.
So the first classic has been run and Frankie has resumed this season in the sparkling renaissance form he was in last year and taken the first classic of the season. A first for rising star trainer Hugo Palmer.
Congratulations to all concerned, And They're Off for the flat season