William Haggas: "she's been in such good form that our two options were here or California"PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Muffri'Ha the class act
as series gets under way
THE road to All-Weather Championships Finals Day begins at Lingfield today with a mile qualifier for the 32Red Fillies and Mares Championship, in which Darley Stakes heroine Muffri'Ha is the headline act.
Having beaten Carry On Derryck and the returning Johannes Vermeer over 1m1f, the daughter of Iffraaj is saddled with a 5lb Group 3 penalty, but trainer William Haggas remains enthusiastic about her chances.
He said: "She's improved a lot and normally I would have put her away, but she's been in such good form that our two options were here or California.
"We decided to try to get her qualified and, while she has a stiff task with a penalty, she's drawn well which I think is important."
Squash enjoyed a fine spring, chasing home Nathra in the Nell Gwyn before being beaten only a length here in a Group 3 over a furlong shy of today's trip.
"She likes a little bit of juice and we had a bit of coughing around June time so it seemed the perfect time to giver her a break at Chris Budgett's Kirtlington Stud," said trainer Philip McBride. "She's only been back six weeks but doesn't take a lot of work and won't fail for lack of fitness."
Charlie Appleby wastes little time in attempting to qualify Mise En Rose, who has twice gone close this season at Group 3 level over seven furlongs.
"She'll be dropped in, so being drawn in stall 12 will hopefully not be a major inconvenience," said Appleby. "We've put the cheekpieces on again, which is more to help her concentrate in the final quarter-mile."
Chantilly-based Henri-Francois Devin gives a final start to the consistent Johara before her retirement to the paddocks.
The trainer said: "She's always been more of a miler but she stayed quite well the other day over a mile and a quarter at Lyon and just got caught out by the soft ground. That was meant to be her last run but, as she came out of it so well, we thought we would give her another run on her way back to Newmarket."
A field of 11 go to post for the Listed 32Red EBF Stallions Fleur de Lys Fillies Stakes after Gay Kelleway's Yeah Baby Yeah was withdrawn ona self-certificate due to a temperature.
Johnston double-handed in stayers race
There are also plenty of well-bred fillies in the day's other Listed event over 1m5f, the 32Red EBF Stallions River Eden Stakes.
Mark Johnston is represented by Yorkidding, who was third to the useful Weltmacht in a Baden-Baden Listed race before coping well with the extreme test that is the Betfred Cesarewitch.
"She's very capable at this trip and upwards so there is no worry on that score, although the track could be a tiny bit tight as she is a big, galloping horse," said Johnston. "She clearly has the form to win a race like this."
Of his second runner Kiltara, Johnston added: "She would need to step up and produce a personal career best but she'll have trip and track to suit and I think she will run well."