Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (Group1) 1mile Newmarket Saturday

The race is named after the 1942 winner of the fillies Triple Crown, Sun Chariot (pictured), who was foaled in 1939 at the British National Stud, which interestingly, at that time was located at Tully Co Kildare in the Irish Republic. The property subsequently became the Irish National Stud and with its famous Japanese Gardens is well worth a visit. The contest is limited to fillies and mares and is run over the straight Rowley Mile. The excellent trainer Luca Cumani has trained the winner on an impressive six occasions but sadly, with his reduced string is not represented this time, so in his absence, Sir Michael Stoute with four previous victories, the last one in 2014 with Integral, is the leading handler at the weekend. French yards have a great recent record in the contest with five of the last eight winners coming from across The Channel. Since the race was opened to all ages in 1974 the Classic generation have had much the best of the argument with thirty three 3yo’s winning, including last year when Aidan O’Brien’s Alice Springs came home in front.

We have to go all the way back to 1991 to find the only successful contender from the all conquering John Gosden yard, but they do seem to hold a strong hand this time with current market leader, Persuasive. The 4yo daughter of Dark Angel won her first five starts but has come up short in her three efforts at the top level, including last time, when finishing third to the O’Brien pair Hydrangea and Winter in the Group1 Matron Stakes at Leopardstown. However she was beaten less than a length and was putting in all her best work at the finish, so with the tougher track, possible softer ground, and a strong pace in her favour on Saturday, it might just be the Gosden filly’s turn to be the bride.

Having won an amazing four Group 1s last weekend, Aidan O’Brien has the American, Bobby Frankel’s world record of twenty five top level victories in a season, firmly in his sights, and must have high hopes that the tough Roly Poly will bring him another step closer. Already a veteran of fifteen contests, the robust 3yo had to settle for minor honours twice behind stable companion, Winter, earlier in the season, but came good in July when winning back to back Group1s, The Falmouth at Newmarket, and The Prix Rothschild at Deauville. Following a six week break she could only manage sixth in The Matron Stakes at Leopardstown under Seamie Heffernan. However, significantly, only three of the last ten winners of Saturday’s contest boasted a last time out win, and as five of the last six came from the Falmouth, the stats certainly speak in the O’Brien contenders favour. With Moore back doing the steering she has to be on the shortlist.

The French trained 4yo, Qemah won twice at the top level in 2016 and put up another excellent effort when winning the Group2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at this year’s Royal Meeting. She was less than 1/2L behind Roly Poly at Deauville but was well beaten in The Matron at Leopardstown and needs to bounce back, but with that good recent record of Gallic raiders in mind she is not so easy to pass over.

The Marco Botti trained 4yo daughter of Shamardal, Aljaazi, looked an improved filly last time when winning a Sandown Group3 easily by 3L from the Gosden trained Nathra, a possible contender on Saturday. Well suited by the stiff track she drew clear in the final furlong to win convincingly in what was a truly run heat. In her previous race, ten weeks earlier, she had put up another excellent performance when going down by 3/4L to Qemah at Royal Ascot. Relatively lightly raced she won her maiden over the Rowley Mile so should be very much at home on the stiff track and is well worth considering.

The Willie Haggas trained Sea Of Grace fetched €260,000 as a yearling, and it looked money well spent when she won a Curragh Group3 on her third racecourse appearance. The 3yo daughter of Born To Sea moved from the John Oxx yard at the end of her 2yo career and she put up a decent effort when finishing fourth behind Roly Poly in the Falmouth Stakes. An even better effort followed when winning a Haydock Group3 very easily from Lincoln Rocks and she can be excused her defeat in a 10f Curragh Group2 last time as she didn’t get home on the rain softened ground. Worth a second look!

Selection : Aljaazi

Danger : Persuasive

John Gray

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