bet365 Fillies’ Mile | Group 1 | 1m | 2yo | ITV4/RUK
The bet365 Fillies' Mile provides a fascinating first-day highlight on what is billed as the Future Champions meeting.
The pick of seven races live on ITV4, the Group 1 £500,000 feature could provide some important Classic pointers for next year, as well as giving big opportunities to the likes of Danny Tudhope and Harry Bentley, who are not regulars on the Group 1 stage.
Star fillies Oh So Sharp, Reams Of Verse, Minding and Laurens, who scored last year, are among the previous winners of this race, which was transferred from Ascot to Newmarket in 2011.
Tudhope replaces Silvestre de Sousa on Pretty Pollyanna, and both he and trainer Michael Bell will be hoping she can put her Cheveley Park Stud Stakes defeat firmly behind her.
Pretty Pollyanna, photo Liesl King
Clear ante-post favourite for the 1,000 Guineas after landing the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville in August, the daughter of Oasis Dream has to prove her stamina stepped up to a mile from six furlongs.
Bell said: “It’s a step up in trip and it will be interesting to see how she gets on. I'm very happy with her preparation. For a filly at this time in October she's looking in very good condition.
“She has the best form in the race over six furlongs, but she has to go another 33 per cent further. It will be an interesting test.”
Bentley gets Group 1 chance on Antonia De Vega
Harry Bentley gets the chance to impress on the big stage aboard Antonia De Vega, who is unbeaten in two races for Ralph Beckett.
The Waverley Racing-owned filly has stayed on strongly to win at Newmarket and Goodwood over seven furlongs, giving every indication there will be even better to come at this trip.
Bookmakers certainly agree, as Antonia De Vega disputed favouritism on Thursday with the Aidan O’Brien pair Hermosa and Zagitova, and Beckett believes she is primed to take the step up.
“She’s in good shape,” he said. “I hope we get a drop more rain. I could have done without her being drawn on the wing, but I’m confident she’ll be competitive.”
Race king O’Brien has two serious contenders
Aidan O’Brien, who has landed three of the last four runnings via Rhododendron (2016), Minding (2015) and Together Forever (2014), has two strong contenders in Hermosa, the mount of Donnacha O’Brien, and Zagitova, who will be partnered by Seamie Heffernan.
Stable number one Ryan Moore is required in Sydney to ride US Navy Flag.
Hermosa and Zagitova look closely matched on form. Hermosa appeared ready for a step up in trip when staying on strongly to win a Group 3 over seven furlongs at Naas last time, while Zagitova, sent off at 4-1, finished fourth in the Moyglare last time, one place behind 20-1 shot Hermosa.
O’Brien said: “Hermosa has been in good form since her Group 3 win at Naas. She's progressed from race to race and hopefully will progress again here. Going up to a mile shouldn’t be a problem.”
He added: “We think Zagitova has come on since running fourth in the Moyglare and that going back to a mile will suit her.”
O’Brien’s son Joseph is represented by Iridessa, third in a Leopardstown Listed event last time, and the mount of Wayne Lordan.
“She’s in good form at home and had a good run at Leopardstown from an extremely bad draw,” O’Brien said. “She did well to finish third that day.
"The step up to a mile should suit and a drop of rain wouldn’t do her any harm either.”
Shambolic bids to make successful step up
Shambolic, one of two unbeaten fillies in the line-up, takes a huge rise in class after landing a mile novice event at Ascot last month by half a length from Model Guest.
That runner-up subsequently performed well when fourth of nine to Just Wonderful in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes, and it would be no surprise to see her take another significant step forward in terms of form.
Trainer John Gosden said: “She’s two from two after winning on the July Course and at Ascot so should be fine on the undulations.
“This has been the plan for some time and, although it’s a big step up in class, she deserves to take her chance.
“She’s in good form at home, but a few more showers may have helped her cause.”
Appleby hopes Beyond Reason is a Group 1 filly
Charlie Appleby is hoping the return to a fast surface will see Beyond Reason prove herself a Group 1 filly after disappointing on her first venture in that company in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh last month.
The daughter of Australia failed to shine when sixth of ten behind Skitter Scatter, and Appleby said: “She was slightly disappointing in Ireland last time out, but William [Buick] felt she wasn’t very comfortable on the dead ground.
“She's freshened up well since, and will enjoy racing on a sounder surface at Newmarket. The step up to a mile should suit and I'm hopeful she'll be very competitive.”
Don’t rule out Stoute’s Layaleena
Sir Michael Stoute’s twice-raced Sea The Stars filly Layaleena is the outsider of the party, but it would be foolish to dismiss her.
She won in good style on her Newmarket debut over seven furlongs in August prior to underperforming when only fifth of nine to Dubai Blue as 4-6 favourite at Lingfield the following month.
Angus Gold, racing manager to Layaleena’s owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, said: “She won very well first time out at Newmarket but disappointed at Lingfield for no apparent reason – she may have been in season. Sir Michael and his team have a high opinion of her.”