French fancy in Guineas
Simon Holt previews Sunday's QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and he's backing an overseas raider.
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MASTER trainer Andre Fabre has never won the 1000 Guineas but can put that right with MISS FRANCE in Sunday's wide open and intriguing Qipco-sponsored renewal at Newmarket.
The daughter of Dansili proved a disappointment on her recent reappearance in the Prix Imprudence at Maisons-Laffitte when finishing only sixth behind Xcellence and her fellow Guineas rival and compatriot Vorda but was totally unsuited by a pedestrian early pace. Afterwards, Fabre told the media to ignore the run emphasising that the race was "just a trial."
If we take his sagely advice, it is far more significant to concentrate on the filly's two victories last season when she beat subsequent Prix Marcel Boussac winner Indonesienne at Chantilly in August and then travelled over to Newmarket, handling the course exceptionally well to run out a cosy winner from Lightning Thunder in the Oh So Sharp Stakes under a confident ride from Mickael Barzalona.
The strong pace - likely to be repeated here - in that contest, played into Miss France's hands as she picked off the leaders with ease and she appeared to have plenty left in the tank passing the winning post. A bit keen usually in the early stages, she will need to be switched off by Maxime Guyon here but should relish this stiff mile and looks to have a touch of class.
Vorda was also a cosy winner here last season, defeating Princess Noor and Kiyoshi in the Cheveley Park Stakes over six furlongs having earlier chased home No Nay Never in the Prix Morny. She was probably less inconvenienced by the slow gallop in that Prix Imprudence in which she was worn down close home and her pedigree does not by any means guarantee enough stamina for this test.
The most solid contender representing the home team is probably Rizeena, winner of a rough-house Moyglare Stud Stakes at The Curragh last September when she beat the wayward and subsequently demoted Kiyoshi with Tapestry (promoted to second) an unlucky-looking third. Clive Brittain's filly was a model of consistency all season and ended the campaign with a second to subsequent Breeders Cup winner Chrisselliam (sadly no longer with us) in the Fillies Mile in which slow early fractions were not helpful to third-placed Ihtimal.
The subject of rave reviews on the Newmarket gallops this spring, Rizeena looks sure to be thereabouts and trainer Clive Brittain even considered running her in the 2000 Guineas.
Ihtimal, a breathtaking winner of the May Hill Stakes (from Majeyda) at Doncaster before being beaten in the Fillies Mile, looked to have progressed in Dubai in February when winning both the UAE 1000 Guineas and Oaks (10f), latterly by 10 lengths. This opposition is much tougher but a strongly-run race over the stiff mile should suit the Godolphin representative and she clearly won't be lacking for fitness.
Meanwhile, Kiyoshi beat Ihtimal early on last season before slamming Sandiva and Joyeuse (Lucky Kristale sixth, Lady Lara eighth, Princess Noor ninth) in a hot-looking Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot despite veering badly right in the closing stages. But her intractability proved a problem later on and it remains to be seen how this obviously talented filly behaves here.
On that Ascot run, in particular, Kiyoshi - who is bred to stay further than a mile - has a major chance.
After her Albany run, Lucky Kristale went from strength to strength beating Rizeena (who was conceding 3lb) in decisive fashion in the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes at the Newmarket July meeting before accounting for the Prix Marcel Boussac third Queen Catrine in the Lowther Stakes at York.
George Margarson's filly is extremely likeable and victory here would be a magnificent result for a small yard, but her pedigree suggests she will struggle to stay the mile.
Aidan O'Brien fields two hugely promising fillies in Tapestry (Joseph O'Brien) and Bracelet (Ryan Moore). Tapestry, a beautifully bred daughter of Galileo, was certainly done few favours by Kiyoshi at The Curragh and can be expected to improve while it would be foolish to write off the Montjeu filly Bracelet as merely the second-string following her defeat of Balansiya in the 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown at the end of March.
In a hugely competitive race, they could both be leading contenders.
Finally, I would just like to mention John Gosden's filly Betimes (by New Approach) who has a huge amount to find based on her Lingfield maiden victory in December. However, she won with tremendous authority that day producing a stunning turn of foot up the home straight and connections clearly think enough of her to let her loose here without a prep-run.