Ed Vaughan aiming to go out on a Group 1 high with Dame Malliot
Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1) | 1m4f | 3yo+ | ITV/SKY
Ed Vaughan brings the curtain down on his training career at Ascot and he has a fantastic chance of enjoying a fairy tale finale by landing this Group 1 with Dame Malliot.
Her owner, Anthony Oppenheimer, won this last season with the John Gosden-trained Star Catcher and Dame Malliot has already achieved more than last year’s winner had going in.
The daughter of Champs Elysees achieved a Racing Post Rating of 116 when landing the Group 2 Princess of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket in July and that is the best form on offer.
However, an RPR of 116 would only have been good enough to win two of the last ten runnings of this race and Dame Malliot could be vulnerable if there is an improver lining up.
Wonderful Tonight looked just that when recording her first Group 1 success in the Prix de Royallieu on Arc weekend at Longchamp last time, recording a 3lb better figure than her previous best. She would only have to make similar progress again to trouble Dame Malliot.
She is certainly open to that sort of progress given she is a lightly raced three-year-old from a stable in red-hot form, but she appeared to appreciate the 1m6f trip at Longchamp last time. Can she reproduce that level of form back at a mile and a half?
One thing is for sure: she loves testing ground and the more of a test this becomes the better she is likely to run. Trainer David Menuisier might be doing the rain dance on Friday night.
Tom Segal hailed Colin Keane as the best jockey in Europe on the Flat in his piece for the Betting Masterclasses series earlier this year and we don’t get to see Keane in Britain too often. He has had only three rides across the Irish Sea this year but one of those won.
Even So looks the pick of his four rides at the Berkshire venue and the Irish Oaks winner shaped like she might improve for her return from a summer break when sixth in the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp last month behind Dame Malliot, Laburnum and Wonderful Tonight.
She bids to give Ger Lyons his second Group 1 winner in Britain nine years after his first. He won the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket with talented juvenile Lightening Pearl in 2011.
Race analysis by Graeme Rodway
Menuisier hoping for another wonderful day
David Menuisier’s career continues to go from strength to strength, and the market suggests further Group 1 success is entirely possible as he saddles likely favourite Wonderful Tonight.
The progressive three-year-old filly, whose only defeat in four starts on ground officially described as ‘heavy’ came on her Doncaster debut last October, dug deep over 1m6f to clinch the Group 1 Prix de Royallieu at Longchamp a fortnight ago by a length and a quarter from Pista.
Menuisier is hopeful the filly will show no ill-effects from that hard race in arduous conditions, and expresses confidence that the step back to 1m4f will suit her.
“She’s in good form and has been showing all the right signals at home,” he said. “She certainly seems as good in herself as she’s been all year.
“I gave her a final stretch of the legs on Friday morning, and she went well. I suppose we won’t truly know whether she’s fully recovered from Longchamp until it comes to the crunch in the final furlong.”
He added: “I don’t see the step down in trip as a negative. She ran over further at Longchamp because there was no Group 1 at a mile and a half for her at the meeting – apart from the Arc!
“We had to go for it, and I think she’ll be better at the mile and a half. She’ll be more relaxed over it, and able to use her stride better.”
Menuisier, who has enjoyed big-race success in recent years with the likes of Danceteria, Thundering Blue, and Chief Ironside, is compiling an impressive CV himself.
The Pulborough-based trainer quipped: “Criquette Head always used to say it takes ten years to make a good trainer – it takes that long to get all the mistakes out of the way, and not make them again. Maybe she’s right.”
What they say
Harry Bentley, rider of Antonia De Vega
It's an open race this year and I think Antonia De Vega has had the perfect preparation. She gave me a great feel when winning a Group 3 at Newmarket last time and this race looks the perfect fit after that. She'll love the ground and I'm looking forward to the ride.
Ed Vaughan, trainer of Dame Malliot
She’s in good form, and has won on soft and heavy ground so that’s in her favour. It looks an open, highly competitive race, but she should be right there based on her form.
John Gosden, trainer of Frankly Darling and Mehdaayih
Frankly Darling wasn't at her best in the Yorkshire Oaks, but she won the Ribblesdale Stakes well around Ascot and if she handles the ground she'll go nicely. Mehdaayih ricked her back when she ran at Royal Ascot and has been off since, but has been training nicely. She's drawn in stall eight on the outside which isn't ideal, but if she handles the ground she should go well.
Roger Varian, trainer of Cabaletta and Gold Wand
Cabaletta’s Listed win at Newbury marked her down as a progressive middle-distance filly. However, she was a bit uneasy on the ground when galloped into submission by Subjectivist at Goodwood and the conditions at Ascot are unlikely to play to her strengths. She will be a better model next season. Gold Wand would need to improve again to trouble the principals, but Magical's defection to the Champion Stakes opens up the race. She should run well.
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Laburnum and Passion
Laburnum ran well in France last time, as did Passion when she raced over further. Going back to a mile and a half on easy ground will suit Passion. Both fillies are in good form.
Joseph O'Brien, trainer of Thundering Nights
Thundering Nights has been progressing all season. She is a very nice filly who handles soft ground. The step up in trip is a bit of an unknown, but we're hoping she can get placed.
Reporting by Richard Birch
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