Pointers and trainer views as Urban Fox and Rhododendron head the raiders
Darley Prix Jean Romanet | Group 1 | 4yo+ fillies & mares | 1m2f | ATR/RUK
Bateel ready to go for patient Graffard
With many French trainers there would be a concern over a filly making her return after a single – albeit winning – outing in May.
But Francis Graffard has had Bateel in shape to run at Group 1 level for much of the summer, having made late decisions to skip both the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes owing to the sweltering conditions and, to a lesser extent, the sun-baked ground.
"We bypassed the two races because of the heatwave but she runs well fresh," said Graffard. "She's in great form and has been working well. It’s a sort of a comeback run but I’m really looking forward to getting her out on the racecourse again."
Pierre-Charles Boudot has been on board for all six starts since Bateel joined Graffard but is claimed to ride another of the leading French challengers in Lady Frankel for boss Andre Fabre, leaving Olivier Peslier to step in.
"Olivier rode her work ahead of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and he's a very instinctive jockey so he makes an excellent substitute," said Graffard.
Haggas and Doyle seeking more glory
Going right back to Addeybb's success in the Lincoln on the opening day of the turf season, the theme of William Haggas and James Doyle's partnership has been a prominent one in 2018.
Daniel Tudhope has been a more regular partner for Urban Fox this year, including when winning the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh and then chasing home Wild Illusion in Goodwood's Nassau Stakes last time, but Doyle rode her at Royal Ascot and is back on board.
The last two runs were Urban Fox's first attempts at ten furlongs and represent significant career-best efforts for a filly who is making only her fifth start since being bought to join Haggas.
Haggas said: "She's well and we're hopeful. It was another good run at Goodwood, and although it's quick back for her she's in good form. I'm very happy with her."
Can O'Brien banish the virus blues?
Aidan O'Brien's frustrating summer could be summed up in the space of 40 minutes on the Thursday of Glorious Goodwood, with Land Force winning the Richmond Stakes only for Rhododendron to trail in a well beaten last of five in the Nassau.
The same two horses run on this card and the performance of Rhododendron here could be a powerful pointer to whether the horses that have been under the weather at Ballydoyle are on the way back.
"We're trying blinkers for the first-time as she can be a bit lazy and we think they might help her," said O'Brien.
"She was below her best on her last two starts and it's possible, but not certain, that she might have been affected by the bug we had in the yard. She seems in good form now."
A return to the form that brought Rhododendron success over thistrip in last season's Prix de l'Opera would make her a danger to all.
What the others say
Henri-Francois Devin, trainer of Golden Legend and Nonza
Nonza is a progressive filly with a turn of foot but it's a big test for her at this level. Golden Legend has been improving all year but still has a fair bit to find. We'd be happy for them to both run a place.
Jessica Harrington, trainer of I'm So Fancy
We've been aiming all along to try to get some Group 1 black type for her and this possibly represents our best chance of that happening. It will be a big step up but she's been very consistent at a lower level of competition and is in good form.
Martyn Meade, trainer of Wilamina
It's a tough ask but the trip will suit and she's very well. She deserves her chance and if she's placed we'll be delighted.
Peter Schiergen, trainer of Navaro Girl
She didn’t get a great trip last time and is much better judged on her previous run at Saint-Cloud, where she was a good third to Bateel. We're realistic that winning will be difficult but I hope she can be placed.
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