Laurens is aiming to win the Sun Chariot Stakes for the second year running.
After successfully recommending a placed runner at 25/1 in last week’s Cambridgeshire Handicap, Nick Seddon heads back to Newmarket to take a look at Saturday’s feature, the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes…
Newmarket really hogs racing’s headline slots at this time of year, and it will host its third straight Saturday meeting at the weekend - followed by yet another a week later, in the form of the Dewhurst Stakes.
This week’s feature is the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes, which is open to fillies and mares aged three and over. Run over a mile, the race has been particularly kind to punters in recent years, and favourites have obliged in six of the last eight renewals - including last year, when Laurens came home in front for the Karl Burke team.
That success capped off a remarkable three-year-old season for Laurens, in which she won four Group 1 contests across three different countries, and although she hasn’t been quite as prolific so far this term, she’s generally been holding her form well; picking up a sixth top level success of her career when winning the Prix Rothschild over this trip at Deauville in July. Admittedly, she was below form in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown last time out, but this straightforward front-runner is the type to bounce back quickly from that, and it would be no surprise to see her put in a bold show from the front here.
Aidan O’Brien won this race in 2016 and 2017 with Alice Springs and Roly Poly respectively, and he is due to send three this time around; Hermosa, I Can Fly and Happen. The standout performance on I Can Fly’s record to date was her effort to finish a fine second in last season’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, but she has struggled to reach that level on a regular basis so far this term, and is winless in her last eight outings. Her effort to finish third when giving away weight to the three-year-old colts in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood in July was an excellent one, however, and she would be right in the mix if in the same mood here.
More interesting is Hermosa, who completed a classic double when adding to her victory in the 1000 Guineas by storming home in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh in May. Things haven’t gone to plan since, following up a narrow defeat in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot with a run that was too bad to be true at Glorious Goodwood in August, but she got right back on track when finishing second behind Iridessa in the Matron Stakes last month. Hermosa has to overturn the form with that particular rival here, but it’s worth noting that she comfortably defeated that rival when winning both versions of the Guineas earlier in the season, and provided she’s in the same form here, she looks worth siding with at the prices to prove too strong – with the receipt of an age allowance from Laurens a big bonus. Meanwhile, Happen has found life tough on both of her tries in Group 1 company so far this season, and has a lot to find for win purposes.
Iridessa bounced back from a poor run in the Irish Oaks when winning the aforementioned Matron Stakes last month, winning by three quarters of a length. It was a career best effort, though her win in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh in June suggested that her optimum trip may be over ten furlongs now, and kept over a mile here, she could struggle to confirm the form should Hermosa take a step forward.
Like Laurens, both Billesdon Brookand Veracious also have to concede weight to their three-year-old rivals. The first-named caused a 66/1 shock in last season’s 1000 Guineas, and having found life tough at the top table, she returned to winning ways in a listed contest at Chelmsford in June, before winning a Group 3 contest at Glorious Goodwood last time out. She’s yet to fully repeat her Guineas triumph form wise, and would need to find more now returned to Group 1 level. Veracious has long hinted that she had the potential to make up into a Group 1-winning filly, and she duly lived up to that when winning the Falmouth Stakes on her most recent start at Newmarket in July. That was a notable step forward, and she has to prove that she can back it up here – for all that she’s still lightly-raced for her age.
Curiously, French raiders have an excellent recent record in the Sun Chariot, and two are due to come over from the Henri-Alex Pantall yard, Crown Walk and Madeleine Must. It is the first-named who is the more interesting of the two, having caught the eye when fourth on just her second start of the season in a Group 3 contest over this trip at Deauville in August. That run should have sharpened her up, and she would have solid each-way claims if able to repeat the form which saw her place in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville in July 2018. Meanwhile, Madeleine Must arrives here on an upward curve, having won a listed contest at Longchamp last time. There could be more to come from her yet, though this will require a lot more.
The field is completed by Lavender’s Blue, and Twist ‘N’ Shake. The first-named is still something of an unknown quantity, arriving here on just her fifth start, but her win in the Group 3 Atalanta Stakes at Sandown last time out was an impressive one, and she’s interesting now stepping into Group 1 company. Fellow three-year-old Twist ‘N’ Shake has more experience under her belt, and although she was a dominant winner of a listed contest at Deauville in June, she would need more here than her effort to finish second in a Group 3 contest at the same track last time out. However, the percentage call is Hermosa, in what looks a wide-open renewal.
Saturday 5th October 2019 – Hermosa @ 5/1
Dual classic-winning filly, who rather lost her way in the second half of the summer, looking too bad to be true when last of nine at Glorious Goodwood. She took a firm step back in the right direction when second in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown last month, however, and at the prices she could be the way to go in an open-looking affair, provided she's able to produce her very best form here.