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Duntle 20/06/2012

Duntle: dual Royal Ascot winner heads European challenge  

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Duntle and Dank chase Beverly D in Chicago

Preview: USA, Saturday 11.02pm BST

Arlington Park: Beverly D Stakes (Grade 1) 1m1½f, turf, 3yo+ f/m

A PAIR of 'Ds', Duntle and Dank, head the European trio attempting to improve a patchy record for the visiting party in the Beverly D Stakes, $750,000 highlight of the Arlington Million undercard.

Despite Europe's usually holding a strong-looking hand, only two European-trained horses have won the race since 2000, with I'm A Dreamer last year having emulated Crimson Palace's 2004 success. (That said, several former French-trained fillies have triumphed, as indeed have couple of French trainers in messrs Clement and Biancone.)

Bidding to improve that record is the ultra-reliable Duntle (David Wachman/Wayne Lordan), who had won five in a row before another fine effort in the Prix Rothschild three weeks ago, when only Deauville specialist Elusive Kate got the better of her.

The Niarchos four-year-old also had Dank (Sir Michael Stoute/ Ryan Moore) three-quarters of a length behind her over a mile at Royal Ascot when she recorded a typically gutsy victory on fast ground in the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes (formerly Windsor Forest).

Dank, though, has also shown progressive form, having posted an impressive victory on her most recent outing in Group 2 company at The Curragh at just short of Saturday's trip, whereas Duntle has never raced beyond a mile.

Although she has won three of her last four, Gifted Girl (Paul Cole/Tom Queally) looks the European third string. Both she and Dank will be administered Lasix for the first time.

Although the European contingent brings in a high level of form, they face a stern opponent in dual Grade 1 winner Marketing Mix (Tom Proctor/Gary Stevens), beaten just a head here last year by Newmarket raider I'm A Dreamer.

Apart from that defeat, the five-year-old's only other reverse in her last seven starts came when she was outgunned in the final furling by Zagora at the Breeders' Cup. Marketing Mix is unbeaten in two this year, including a victory over male rivals last time at Hollywood Park.

Juddmonte's Starformer (Bill Mott/Edgar Prado) is an ex-French mare trained by a master - and she won a Grade 2 at Belmont last time beating a top US filly.

>>The Beverly D. is a Breeders' Cup Challenge 'Win and You're In' race for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Also on Saturday

Arlington Park: Secretariat Stakes (Grade 1) 1m2f, turf, 3yo (10.23pm BST)

For all its $500,000 prize-money, the Secretariat is rarely the toughest Grade 1 event on the calendar and in recent seasons it has been ripe for European plucking, with three of the last five winners having been transatlantic visitors.

Yeager (Jeremy Noseda/Ryan Moore) looked full of scope when winning a mile handicap at Ascot last time but he will need to step up again for these extra couple of furlongs as his official rating that day was only 83.

Team Valor's First Cornerstone (Andrew Oliver/Chris Hayes) has been highly tried, running in both the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the French Derby on his two most recent starts, while the Aga Khan's Visiyani (Alain de Royer-Dupre/Christophe Lemaire) represents the team successful 12 months ago with Bayrir.

The Virginia Derby over a similar trip at Colonial Downs a month ago may offer the key domestic form line. Jack Milton (Todd Pletcher/Joel Rosario) was checked in his run that day before finishing with a flourish to be beaten only a neck in third.

Draw Two (Michelle Nihei/Gary Stevens) had similar issues when another head away in fourth while the beaten favourite at Colonial was Rydilluc (Gary Contessa/Edgar Prado), who faded in the stretch.

Admiral Kitten (Mike Maker/Rosie Napravnik) has run well here on his last two starts, but Tattenham (Bill Mott/Kent Desromeaux) lurks as a likely improver.

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