Jonathan Portman is praying conditions will not inconvenience his fast-ground lover Annecdote as she bids to notch another notable triumph in the Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster on Thursday.
- Related Content
Annecdote has flown the flag for the Upper Lambourn trainer with high-profile wins in the Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot and the Oak Tree Stakes at Glorious Goodwood this summer.
Those two wins were achieved on her favoured ground, but with rain possible at Town Moor, Portman has his concerns.
"She won in impressive style at Goodwood given not the best of passages and she quickened at Ascot very well to win there," said Portman.
"I think she needs faster ground to quicken in that manner, so we are concerned about the rain forecast.
"I think she can run fine but in those two races she showed great acceleration in the last furlong and that is easier to achieve on the faster ground, so we are slightly nervous about the forecast. We won't panic too much until it goes soft.
"She would be disadvantaged by any rain, but we will just hope for the best. As for her condition and well being, she seems in very good order and we're delighted to have Richard Kingscote riding her again. He understands her well.
"We know it's not going to be easy regardless of the ground, but we'll give it our best shot."
Winning Express has a 3lb pull for a three-quarters of a length defeat by Annecdote at Goodwood and her trainer Ed McMahon is hoping it is enough for her to turn the tables.
"Winning Express ran well at Goodwood and was probably beaten by a better filly on the day, but we will see," said the Lichfield handler.
"We are running against Annecdote again with a 3lb pull in the weights and I don't think the competition is any harder than it was at Goodwood.
"If you wanted to look at statistics on paper, the 3lb is probably enough to give us the upper hand, but it all depends on how things pan out on the day.
"We are entitled to be hopeful and I'm not frightened of anything, but things can go wrong in a race - you can get trapped in pockets - so I'm just looking for a good run.
"At this time of year, especially because she wants decent ground, you are running out of options and I haven't really got any more targets after this race. I had thought about going to Keeneland, but it's quite an expense to get out there and she is only a three-year-old. That's on the backburner anyway."
Arguably the best effort by Winning Express came in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas when she was fourth to Sky Lantern, two places ahead of the winner's stablemate Maureen.
Richard Hannon's charge has been kept to Group One company in all her three races since then without troubling the judge and takes a drop in class. She did, though, win at this grade at Newbury in April.
"Maureen was only beaten four lengths by Elusive Kate in the Group One Prix Rothschild at Deauville last time, and dropping back to seven furlongs for the first time since she won the Dubai Fred Darling at Newbury in April won't be a problem as she has a good finishing kick," the Herridge trainer told www.richardhannonracing.co.uk.
Hannon also saddles Zurigha, who was fourth in the French 1000 Guineas but was tailed off behind Annecdote at Royal Ascot.
"Zurigha found the ground too fast at Royal Ascot, but, like Maureen, she has a touch of class, having finished an excellent fourth in the French 1000 Guineas, so we have two strong chances here," said the trainer.
Irish interests are represented by Bethany Bay, who will be prepared to race in Dubai after this race.
"She's in good form and this is probably her last run before she goes to Dubai. Her owner lives over there and she's going to race over there in the winter," said trainer Pat Shanahan.
"She's still improving and her last run at the Curragh (second to Eastern Rules) was very good."