Musidora Stakes: Friendly Soul targets delight for John Gosden on Dante Festival's opening day at York

John and Thady Gosden’s Friendly Soul brings her flawless record to the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York on Wednesday.

The Kingman filly is unbeaten in two starts, having taken a Kempton maiden late last year before returning at Listed level on the Rowley Mile at the Guineas meeting.

There she was well able to handle the rise in class, starting at 10-1 under Kieran Shoemark and impressing with a length-and-a-quarter-success ahead of Andrew Balding’s well-regarded Kalpana.

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The third was a further 12 lengths behind, making Friendly Soul’s performance visually taking as she stepped up to a mile and a quarter.

UP FRONT: Friendly Soul, who can complete a hat-trick in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes and give John and Thady Gosden a third consecutive victory in the race. Picture: David Davies/The Jockey Club/PAUP FRONT: Friendly Soul, who can complete a hat-trick in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes and give John and Thady Gosden a third consecutive victory in the race. Picture: David Davies/The Jockey Club/PA
UP FRONT: Friendly Soul, who can complete a hat-trick in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes and give John and Thady Gosden a third consecutive victory in the race. Picture: David Davies/The Jockey Club/PA

She will now run over half a furlong further on the Knavesmire, where she will be partnered by Shoemark again when tested for the first time at Group Three level.

The jockey said: “She was very impressive on her second start at Newmarket 10 days ago.

“She’ll hopefully improve plenty, and I look forward to riding her on a lovely galloping track at York.”

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Ralph Beckett has been on the mark in Oaks trials so far this year with Forest Fairy and You Got To Me, and he has two Musidora contenders in the shape of Salisbury novice winner La Pasionaria and Fillies’ Mile fourth Classical Song.

HOIPEFUL: Trainer John Gosden, Picture: Mike Egerton/PAHOIPEFUL: Trainer John Gosden, Picture: Mike Egerton/PA
HOIPEFUL: Trainer John Gosden, Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

Both make their seasonal debut, and Rossa Ryan will take the ride on the latter horse having partnered her on her final start of 2023.

He said: “Her work at home has been lovely. She’s wintered really well and, judging by her two-year-old career, it looks like the step up in trip will suit her well, so I would have no fear on that front.

“I’ll be hoping she can run a nice race and is a filly that as the year goes on will progress very well.”

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Aidan O’Brien saddles Mayfair, a Justify filly out of a Cheveley Park winner in the Galileo mare Clemmie.

Fourth to a subsequent Group performer in Purple Lily on debut, the chestnut is yet to win a race but was only narrowly denied in her two starts over seven furlongs this year.

She now steps up in trip and O’Brien is hopeful the extended distance will be to her liking.

“Mayfair is in good form, I know she’s still a maiden, but we think she is still progressing and this race will do her good,” said the Ballydoyle trainer, who is already responsible for Oaks favourite Ylang Ylang and the fancied Rubies Are Red.

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“We always felt that stepping her up in trip will make a big difference to her so we are expecting a good bit of improvement.

“The Musidora is always a key trial to get a gauge on where a lot of the fillies are, it’s always a very good trial but you don’t know where you stand with them until you try.

“She’s only run over seven furlongs so far so we are expecting to see an improvement over 10 furlongs.”

Charlie Johnston runs Francophone, a Study Of Man filly who is owned and was bred by Kirsten Rausing.

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A debut winner who ended her season with a fifth-placed run in the Group Two May Hill at Doncaster, the bay returned this year to win again at the first time of asking when taking a Southwell event on the all-weather.

Johnston said: “It’s obviously a fair jump up in class, but we’ve always thought she was a filly who would be at home in Pattern class – we’ll learn a lot more on Wednesday.”

Rausing has a second runner in Sinology, trained by David Simcock, and the field is completed by the Balding-trained Secret Satire.