Happily heads strong Ballydoyle challenge as O'Brien closes in on record
Happily will spearhead a three-pronged assault on the bet365 Fillies' Mile at Newmarket on Friday by Aidan O'Brien as he goes in search of a 24th Group 1 winner of the season.
Victory over the the colts in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc day at Chantilly this month, Happily, the mount of Ryan Moore, was backed into as short as 11-10 (from 2-1) on Wednesday.
The dual Group 1 winner will take on stablemates Magical and September in a 12-runner line-up that bookmakers believe will almost certainly give O'Brien a 24th success, a figure just one shy of Bobby Frankel's world record.
O'Brien, who has won the last three editions of the Fillies' Mile with Together Forever, Minding and Rhododendron, said: "We decided to run all three - Happily, Magical and September.
"Happily came out of her win against the colts in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere very well and we've also been happy with the other two fillies since they last ran."
Happily got the better of Magical by a short head in the Moyglare Stakes at the Curragh in September, with September a further three and a quarter lengths back in third.
The two principals were then kept apart at Chantilly at the beginning of this month, with Happily taking the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, while Magical was fourth to Wild Illusion in the Prix Marcel Boussac.
French-trained Efaadah takes her chance for Freddy Head and Aurelien Lemaitre, while May Hill winner Laurens is set to represent the in-form Karl Burke, who also runs Weld Park Stakes winner Elthea.
Clerk of the course Michael Prosser said on Wednesday: "We had 0.4mm of rain overnight and some small amounts this afternoon.
"Tonight into Thursday we may well have 3mm of rain which will put us the slow side of good but it is set then to be dry on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and we are set to open the meeting on good ground."