Tom Collins searches for value behind red-hot favourite Wonderful Tonight
Saturday: 3.05 Goodwood
Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes (Group 2) | 1m6f | 3yo+ | ITV/RTV
Few older staying fillies have captured the imagination quite like Wonderful Tonight. The dual Group 1 winner left the boys in her wake in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot and is likely to be sent off a short-priced favourite as she steps up in trip back against her own sex.
The David Menuisier-trained four-year-old was considered good enough to put it up to Adayar, Mishriff and Love in the King George a week ago but quick conditions forced connections to bypass that coveted prize. Grim weather this week suggests that was a good decision.
Although she has to carry a 3lb penalty for her Hardwicke success, Wonderful Tonight remains clear on official ratings and odds-on favouritism is warranted as she prepares for the Arc. It's hard to see her losing the Lillie Langtry.
So, who is the main danger? The market tells you it is Albaflora and it's hard to disagree.
She has six lengths to find with Wonderful Tonight on her Ascot performance and it's pretty hard to envisage her turning the tables, but she too should relish the return to racing against fillies and mares and her seasonal reappearance victory hinted that she could be successful at the top level given ideal conditions.
Albaflora beat the reopposing Tribal Craft by seven lengths that day and the Andrew Balding-trained runner appears to have a forlorn task of reversing the form here.
Course winner Believe In Love lost her action behind Tribal Craft at York on her return to the track this season, but regained the winning thread at Leopardstown earlier this month. Versatile regarding ground, Believe In Love could hit the frame under talented apprentice Ray Dawson.
Maybe the value lies with her in a race in which the market protagonists should dominate.
Race analysis by Tom Collins
Menuisier: it's not a walk in the park for Wonderful Tonight
The weather refused to consent as far as Wonderful Tonight was concerned last Saturday ahead of the King George, meaning David Menuisier has had to sit tight and wait for the rain to arrive ahead of what on paper is an easier task against her own sex.
Menuisier said: "I'm delighted with her. She's been ready to go since last weekend and I'm glad we're able to run because she feels great.
"The 5mm [of rain] we've had today is nothing but at least it stops the ground drying out too quick. If we run her on good ground at the worst, that's good enough for me."
Menuisier added: "I'm quite surprised to see O'Brien's filly [Divinely] at 14-1, she ran second to Snowfall in the Irish Oaks so it's not a weak CV. We're going there to win the race but we have to be humble, it's not a walk in the park as people or bookmakers might think."
Wonderful Tonight is being carefully plotted towards the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October with Menuisier determined not to risk her on fast ground before the big day itself.
"As she is so ground-biased, most of the time you kind of live on your nerves because you rarely know three weeks in advance where you're going to go with her," said Menuisier.
"It's challenging to train the filly and you always wonder if you've done enough or too much. You don't really have a set date. She was ready for last weekend and we've had to patch up the preparation for this weekend instead."
He added: "I do enjoy being in her company on a daily basis but the enjoyment comes with pressure. Most people would kill to have an 8-13 shot in a £300,000 race but believe me, it does put some serious pressure on people, even though it's a better situation than being 50-1."
What they say
Roger Varian, trainer of Believe In Love and Cabaletta
Believe In Love is a dual Group 3 winner so it's only logical to come here. She gets the trip, she handles a bit of juice in the ground and is in good form. It's a strong race as you'd expect but we think she'll run very well. Cabaletta has run well all year without winning, being placed in the Middleton, the Pinnacle and the Lancashire Oaks. I think she's overpriced, I think she'll run a very good race.
Oisin Murphy, rider of Tribal Craft
Her win at York was a career best and they rode her quietly that day. Her run the next day at Haydock wasn't bad either. Obviously Wonderful Tonight will be very hard to beat and we had 3.6mm of rain on Thursday night, which won't be an inconvenience to either filly. It's a hot race but it'd be lovely to give it a good shot for Jeff Smith and Andrew [Balding].
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Divinely
She's been running well and seems in good form since her run [when second to Snowfall] in the Irish Oaks. She doesn't mind an ease in the ground. This trip is a bit further for her so we'll see how that goes.
Reporting by Scott Burton
Read more Saturday previews
The wait is almost over! Pick up your copy of the Big Kick-Off, free inside the Racing Post on Wednesday, August 4. Your complete guide to the 2021-22 football season is packed full of tips from our experts and team-by-team guides for every English division