Sun Chariot lowdown: will Roly Poly take O'Brien closer to record?
Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (Group 1) 3yo+ fillies & mares | 1m Turf (Rowley Mile) | ITV4/RUK
Roly Poly may not be one of the true headliners in Aidan O’Brien’s ‘Class of 17’ but it is doubtful there are many more willing horses housed within the walls of Ballydoyle.
Two second placed efforts behind Winter at the Curragh and Ascot showed Roly Poly – whose dam Misty For Me was classy enough to win a Prix Marcel Boussac, an Irish Guineas and a Pretty Polly – would have been very near the top of the pecking order in any other yard.
All-the-way wins in the Falmouth and the Prix Rothschild confirmed as much, prompting Ryan Moore to say of her after her Deauville success: "She tries so hard and is a high-class filly who seems to thrive on her racing."
Victory for Moore’s mount today would give O’Brien a 23rd Group 1 win of the season as he closes in on Bobby Frankel’s record of 25.
Roly Poly was never able to get a break on her rivals in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown last time but a return to a more galloping layout might play to her strengths more than those in the field that arguably have a better turn of foot.
"Roly Poly has had a good season and seems to be in good form. We haven't done a whole lot with her since her run in the Matron Stakes last month but we're happy with her," said O'Brien.
Ballydoyle's other representative is Alluringly, whose career hasn't progressed in the way connections might have hoped since finishing second to Enable in the Cheshire Oaks.
O'Brien said: "Alluringly is dropping down in distance as we might have been asking her to go too far in her races. She's in good form."
Is Frankie right with Persuasive?
That Leopardstown form was given a solid look when the winner Hydrangea only went down by a short head in the Prix de l'Opera last Sunday, something that might not have appeared to be the case on the day given the middling pace and the shock identity of the winner.
However Dettori's decision will not have been entirely straightforward given the presence in the line-up of Nathra, another Gosden filly to make a belated reappearance and one whose recent Doncaster second to Aclaim over 7f was given the seal of quality when her conqueror won the Prix de la Foret at Chantilly last weekend.
Gosden said: "We've been waiting for this with Persuasive, who ran a great race in the Matron Stakes considering that there was no pace on and she came from a bad draw. The recent rain will help her, as it will Nathra, who will appreciate the return to a mile. The form of her second in the Park Stakes has since been advertised."
Who will come out on top from the three French raiders?
French-trained fillies have lifted this prize in five of the last ten years and there has to be a good chance that one out of Usherette, Qemah and Siyoushake can go some way to rectifying the Group 1 whitewash suffered at the hands of the visitors on last Sunday's Arc card.
Qemah is the only one of the three to have scored at Group 1 level and arguably had to run almost to that level again in holding off Usherette in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Subsequent runs in the Rothschild (fourth) and the Matron (fith) may not have convinced everyone that Al Shaqab's daughter of Danehill Dancer remains quite at her peak.
Jean-Claude Rouget said: "She worked well last Saturday in Deauville and this will be her final start before being retired to stud."
Usherette failed to get the splits at the right times behind Qemah at Ascot but then appeared not to enjoy more forcing tactics when only sixth in the Rothschild.
Andre Fabre already knows the five-year-old can win on the Rowley Mile and freshened her up with a Listed success around the left-hand layout at Maisons-Laffitte last month.
"I wanted to get her back in the winner's circle and give her some confidence knowing that her real target is the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Del Mar," said Fabre. "She is going to run well but it is a good race and very open."
Siyoushake is arguably in the best current form of the three and, having gone down by only a quarter of a length to Roly Poly in the Rothschild, she battled bravely to be second over 1m2f in the Prix Jean Romanet.
"Siyoushake is still in great condition and I've been very happy with her work," said Freddy Head. "We tried her over a mile and a quarter last time but I think that a mile is her best trip and I think that she has improved since her fourth in this race last year."
Is Aljazzi ready for Group 1 promotion?
Aljazzi has done nothing but progress through her four-year-old season and split Qemah and Usherette at Ascot.
Nearly three months on she beat Nathra in decisive fashion when dropped back down to Group 3 level in the Atalanta Stakes at Sandown.
"Sandown confirmed what we have seen throughout the season and, although this is a step up again, I think she is ready for it and I couldn't have her in better shape," said Marco Botti.
Owners Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar are also represented by Dawn Of Hope, who alongside Spangled and Tomyris give trainer Roger Varian three chances in the race.
Muffri'ha booked her place here with a cosy length success in the Listed Rosemary Stakes eight days ago and has an excellent strike-rate on the Rowley Mile.
Her trainer William Haggas said: "She ran three brilliant races in consecutive weeks last year at Newmarket. She clearly loves the track so we freshened her up for the Sun Chariot and decided to go to Newmarket last Friday as well.
"She is really well so now we'll find out if she is good enough."
Arabian Hope finished a fine third in the Falmouth Stakes but was unable to back up that performance less than three weeks later when last of ten in the Rothschild.
Saeed Bin Suroor has since picked up what was arguably a soft Group 3 in Istanbul last time with the daughter of Distorted Humour.
Those looking for a big-priced winner should be aware that five of the last six editions have gone to either the favourite or co-favourite.
Read exclusive previews of Saturday's action from 6pm on Friday evening on racingpost.com