EBOR Festival winners Queen Kindly and Blue Point both put their burgeoning reputations on the line when these top juveniles – potential standard bearers for the 2017 Classic generation – chase Group One honours at Newmarket today.
Even though Queen Kindly, trained at Malton by Richard Fahey, sprang a slight surprise when landing York’s Lowther Stakes, that form does not look so convincing after beaten favourite Fair Eva was denied in yesterday’s Rockfel Stakes by Frankie Dettori’s unheralded mount Spain Burg.
The filly, sired by the legendary Frankel, will need another career-best performance to deny Dettori’s mount Lady Aurelia in today’s Cheveley Park Stakes.
Trained in America by Wesley Ward, he has left Dettori in charge of Lady Aurelia’s preparations as she looks to replicate the form that saw her win Royal Ascot’s Queen Mary Stakes by a wide-margin seven lengths.
“We’re happy with her and we’ll see what happens,” said Fahey, whose Third Time Lucky will attempt to win successive renewals of the Betfred Cambridgeshire later in the afternoon.
“The American filly is going to be hard to beat, but we’ll give it a go.
“The ground should be fine, it should be beautiful ground.
“Overall they could probably do with a drop of rain to make sure it doesn’t get too quick, but it won’t bother her.”
Bruce Raymond, racing manager for owner-breeder Jaber Abdullah, is “hopeful rather than confident” that Queen Kindly can see off her American challenger and deny Dettori another big race as the charismatic Italian prepares for a gala celebration on Monday to mark the 20th anniversary of his ‘magnificent seven’ winners at Ascot.
“We’re looking forward to it, of course,” said Raymond. “Frankie is very keen on his filly, but we feel our filly has improved a lot physically since she ran at Royal Ascot.
“I’m assuming Frankie is going to go quick and hopefully we can keep tabs on her without killing ourselves. Our filly picks up well and quickens, whereas the American filly is the total opposite and is all speed from the start.
“We think we have a good chance of beating her, but we’ll see what happens. I’m hopeful rather than confident.”
As for Ward, whose 2015 Queen Mary winner Acapulco was dethroned by Mecca’s Angel in last year’s Nunthorpe Stakes at York, he clearly respects Queen Kindly, who will be ridden by former champion jockey Jamie Spencer.
“You know going into any major race that the competition is going to be deep,” said the trainer. “I’ve read Richard Fahey’s comments about his filly and he seems pretty confident, which is great – it makes for good racing.
“May the best filly win and I wish them the best of luck, I just wish ourselves a little bit more luck.”
Asked whether this will be Lady Aurelia’s final appearance of 2016, Ward added: “We’re looking at the Breeders’ Cup, but we’ll see how she comes out of the race and how she travels back.”
Meanwhile, the task facing the aforementioned Blue Point in the Middle Park Stakes is just as challenging.
Despite running out an emphatic winner of the Gimcrack Stakes on Ebor day, the Godolphin colt renews his rivalry with the Richard Hannon-trained and Dettori-ridden Mehmas having clashed in the Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
It is given added intrigue by Al Shaqab racing’s probable decision to retire Mehmas to stud at the end of the season while it would be premature to discount Mubtasim, from the in-form yard of William Haggas, and who returned to winning ways at Doncaster a fortnight ago after a below-par performance in the Gimcrack.
That said, Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation and trainer Charlie Appleby will clearly be disappointed if Blue Point is not first past the post under William Buick.
“He was asked to race for the first time at Goodwood and he learned a lot for the whole experience,” said Appleby.
“It was a big learning day and he came out of that race perfectly well – both mentally and physically, you could see the difference.
“He was a different horse at York. Around the paddock at Goodwood he just got a little bit wound up, but he was the ultimate professional at York. If he turns up in the same condition, he is the horse that they have got to beat.”