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Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Gordon dreaming first trip Stateside proves unforgettable

Unforgetable Filly: decent ground is crucial
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Preview: USA, Saturday 10.30pm BST (live on ATR)

Keeneland: Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (Grade 1) 1m1f | turf | 3yo fillies

As first trips to the States go, Josephine Gordon's will take some beating if Unforgetable Filly (Hugo Palmer) does the business in the sole Grade 1 Stateside this weekend.

Champion apprentice in Britain last year, Gordon has already surpassed her tally of winners from then and has enjoyed her first Group successes this term, but victory for the German 1,000 Guineas winner would be a breakthrough one at the highest level for the 24-year-old.

Last of 13 on easy ground in the Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster last month, the daughter of Sepoy, who runs in the colours of Rabbah Bloodstock Ltd, should be suited by a sound surface.

"I'm really excited and I think it's a brilliant opportunity for me for the owners and Hugo to put me on her," Gordon said. "It's a great chance and it will be a really good experience.

"I've watched racing there, but from what I can tell it's a lot different from here. I've been abroad – I've ridden in Switzerland and Dubai – and there are so many things that are a lot more different."

Of her chances, Gordon, who will arrive in the States on Friday night, added: "She wants real quick ground; she wants it firm, so hopefully it will dry out a bit.

"Seven furlongs to a mile suits her ideally, but I think she has a great chance. I'm really looking forward to the experience and hoping that she'll run a big race."

Palmer saddled Hawksmoor, who also won the Irish 1,000 Guineas, to finish third in the $500,000 contest last year, and is now the only Newmarket trainer involved in Saturday's race as Charlie Appleby has been forced to scratch last year's Prix Marcel Boussac winner Wuheida.

She was lame on Friday morning, but will be pointed at the Breeders' Cup at Del Mar, Appleby outlined.

Unforgetable Filly will still face a formidable home challenge in the race last taken overseas when Aidan O'Brien won it with Together in 2011.

Her rivals include Con Te Partiro (Wesley Ward/Mike Smith), who won the Sandringham under Jamie Spencer at Royal Ascot in June.

"This is our home turf, so we've got home-turf advantage, which I'm excited for," said Ward. "She's trained her whole life here, so we're excited to have a race here, which I think is a big advantage.

"We drew a beautiful post on the inside [stall one]. Mike will kind of let her float away from there and he'll maintain his position on the rail around the first turn and try to weave his way through when they get to the second one."

British racefans will also be familiar with Daddys Lil Darling (Kenny McPeek/Robby Albarado), who had been due to run in the Oaks, but spooked at a boom of thunder before the start and bolted, forcing jockey Olivier Peslier out the side door.

She was then withdrawn, but made the frame in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes on her next start and was an easy winner at Stakes level at Kentucky Downs last time.

McPeek said: "She's had a really good year. Any time you get checks in high-level races like she has run in, it is a good year. She has eluded winning a Grade 1, but she is certainly in the realm and has a big shot this weekend."

Breeders' Cup winner New Money Honey (Chad Brown/Javier Castellano) looks best of the US team as she returns to turf after trying dirt at Saratoga. Uni (Irad Ortiz), who won a Grade 2 last time out, was wasn't far behind her Chad Brown-trained stablemate as the reigning US champion trainer saddled a 1-2-3 in the Belmont Oaks Invitational in July.

I'm really looking forward to the experience and hoping that she'll run a big race
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