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'She's in top-class form' - Classic hopeful Saffron Beach returns in Nell Gwyn

Saffron Beach (near): has won both her starts over course and distance
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3.35 Newmarket
Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes (Group 3) | 7f, 3yo fillies | ITV4/RTV

It might only be April but we are already at the stage of the Flat season where the acid test is approaching for last year's star juveniles. Will they have trained on and, more importantly from a Classic perspective, do they have the stamina to be effective over a mile or further?

There is a fine example in this year's Nell Gwyn as Sacred is the standout contender on form. 

The daughter of Exceed And Excel has recorded the three highest Racing Post Ratings in this contest, but all three were achieved over sprint trips and two of them at the minimum 5f.

Second in three separate Group 2s last year, Sacred is definitely the class angle now she drops into a Group 3, but will that be enough or has stamina been the key to this race in the past?

Ryan Moore: rides three-time Group 2 runner-up Sacred for the first time

The figures suggest stamina is more important than ability at shorter trips, and in the last ten years there have been 33 runners who stepped up to 7f in this contest after running shorter on their last start, but only two of those were successful (six per cent; £13.50 to £1 level stakes).

Compare that to the record of those who were dropping back to 7f after running over further on their latest start and there is even further evidence to suggest stamina is a key attribute. 

Since the start of 2011 there have been 25 runners who took a drop in trip to contest this race and four of those were successful (16 per cent). A £1 bet on each yielded a profit of £22.25.

Only one of the ten runners qualify this year and that's Star Of Emaraaty, who finished seventh in the Fillies' Mile at this track in October. She debuts for John and Thady Gosden.

John Gosden has won two of the last four runnings, and his 2016 scorer Nathra was beaten in the Fillies' Mile on her final start at two so it's a path that has worked for the trainer before. 

Jane Chapple-Hyam saddles the overnight market leader Saffron Beach and, while she might not be considered one of Newmarket’s training giants, her figures are up there with the best.

Chapple-Hyam has saddled five winners from 17 runners in Group races at Newmarket and, while former stable star Mull Of Killough was responsible for three of them, Energia Davos's 40-1 win in the 2015 Darley Stakes helps contribute to a tidy £1 level-stake profit of £45.25.
Analysis by Graeme Rodway

Beach day for Kirby

Fresh from two high-profile wins on All-Weather Finals Day at Lingfield on Good Friday, Adam Kirby keeps the quality rides coming by being reunited with unbeaten favourite Saffron Beach in the traditional 1,000 Guineas warm-up.

Success in the 7f test would be a first for both Kirby and trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam, but the daughter of New Bay has strong credentials having done all her winning as a two-year-old on the Rowley Mile and over the very same distance.

After a smooth debut win in a maiden last September, Saffron Beach showed she could mix it at this level when battling home in the Group 3 Oh So Sharp Stakes back at the track the following month.

Adam Kirby: "We're hoping for a big run"

Kirby said: "Saffron Beach is in top-class form at home and she's had a brilliant preparation this spring. Jane's done a great job with her and she's strengthened up no end from last year. We're hoping for a big run especially as, being a very well-balanced filly, she handles the track well."

In recent weeks, Kirby has been reunited with the chestnut on a number of occasions on the Newmarket gallops. He added: "I've ridden her every Saturday for the past five weeks and she's improved a bit from last year. She'll handle the ground so there's lots to like about her chances."

What they say

Hugo Palmer, trainer of Chocoya
She was second in a Listed event in France on her reappearance last month which looked a terrible race at the time, but the fourth has since won the Prix Djebel and the fifth was later just touched off in the Prix Imprudence. She's race-fit and has experience of the track.

Charlie Appleby, trainer of Divine Light
She's a sharp filly with a course-and-distance win under her belt. It looks a competitive race and this should tell us where we are with her.

Jason Watson, rider of Love Is You
She’s exciting. She has wintered well and looks great. Steve Raymont who rides her out every day has been very happy with her. I've not sat on her, but I've confidence in the team and what they think, and I think she should run well. Although she has won at Ascot and Newbury which are pretty level tracks, I don't think the course will be an issue as she is quite well balanced.

Love Is You: described as "exciting" by jockey Jason Watson

John Gosden, joint-trainer of Star Of Emaraaty and Tawahub
Star Of Emaraaty joined us over the winter and we're still getting to know her really, but this looks a nice starting point going forward. Tawahub won nicely on the all-weather at the backend and now switches to turf. She's been going nicely at home and can hopefully get a piece of it.

Tom Palin, racing manager to Middleham Park Racing, owners of Ventura Diamond
We're happy to be using Silvestre de Sousa again as he suits the filly as he's an aggressive rider. She's stepping up in trip, but shapes as if she'll get it and we've had this race in mind for a while.

Read our other Wednesday previews . . .

After a winter of dreaming Nell Gwyn test can bring a dose of Classic reality (Members' Club)

Frankie Dettori fit and ready for first British ride aboard Global Giant (Members' Club)

3.00 Newmarket: Can Global Giant transfer his classy all-weather form back to the turf?

2.25 Newmarket: Naval Crown bids to buck the trends and make fitness count

2.05 Cheltenham: 'Coole Cody is the one to beat' – Tom Collins dissects a tricky handicap chase

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I've ridden her every Saturday for the past five weeks and she's improved a bit from last year
E.W. Terms