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Saturday, 19 January, 2019

Queen's Trust has to overcome shorter trip if she is to beat Lady Eli again

Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the 2016 Filly & Mare Turf on Queen's Trust at Santa Anita. Lady Eli (far side) reopposes
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9.00 Del Mar
Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf | Grade 1 | 3yo + | 1m1f turf | ATR/RUK

It’s Queen’s Trust versus Lady Eli, round two.Twelve months ago at Santa Anita Lady Eli went off favourite but was collared on the line by Frankie Dettori on Queen’s Trust. Lady Eli looks sure to go off favourite again, but why should she reverse the form?

Key to it, as always at the Breeders’ Cup, is that Lady Eli has home advantage. Equally significantly, however, is that this year’s race is a furlong shorter and Lady Eli goes into the race demonstrably in cracking form, whereas Queen’s Trust has gone five races without winning.

Lady Eli was a Breeders’ Cup winner as a juvenile in 2014 and her four runs this year have yielded Grade 1 wins at Santa Anita and Saratoga and two good seconds.

Her trainer Chad Brown, who also saddles Dacita and Grand Jete, has won this race three times in the last five years.

Queen’s Trust’s losing run of five mirror’s last year’s scenario, but once again she has run some decent races, notably when third to Enable in the Yorkshire Oaks. However, trainer and jockey admit to concerns over the trip.

Frankie Dettori said: “The race is a bit shorter this year and she’s a slow starter anyway, so whether she was drawn one, ten [her actual draw] or 14, I’d have been at the back anyway. That’s not a problem but the shorter distance could be.”

Sir Michael Stoute, who will be bidding for a fourth win in the Filly & Mare, added: “Going back a furlong is not ideal for her but she’ll like these conditions and she’ll like the American pace she’s going to get. But she’ll need a bit of luck.”

Draw concerns for Rhodo

Rhodedendron, bidding for a third top-level success, is pressing Lady Eli for favouritism with British and Irish bookmakers.

Her form bears the closest inspection, as besides beating her top-class stablemate Hydrangea for both of her Group 1 wins, most recently in the Prix de l’Opera at Chantilly, she was also second to Aidan O’Brien’s number-one filly Winter when a hot favourite for the 1,000 Guineas.

Rhododendron: the Prix de L'Opera winner could return at Naas

She handled fast ground in the Guineas and has not been over-raced this year, but can she overcome stall 14 on the wide outside?
O’Brien, who has yet to win a Filly & Mare, said: “She doesn’t have a great draw – she’s drawn a bit wide – but she seems to be in good form.”

In not so good form is the French representative Senga, who finished 11th behind Rhododendron in the Opera last time. If, however, she can rediscover the form of her Prix de Diane victory in the summer, she would be a force to reckon with.

Wuheida’s turn?

Wuheida won the Marcel Boussac last year and went into winter quarters as a fancied Classic contender, but injury delayed her comeback and she has not won in four starts since returning in the summer.

However, she ran well each time, all in Group 1s, and her form entitles Godolphin’s filly to the utmost respect. So can she put her best foot forward here?

Trainer Charlie Appleby said: “After winning the Boussac we always had dreams during the winter and going into the spring that we were going to be there as a Classic runner.

“Unfortunately those hopes were dashed when she met with that setback. From the summer onwards she’s done nothing but thrive - she’s a big filly and a very imposing filly.

“I think the conditions out here will suit her, back on a sound surface, and I can’t really give a negative. I think it’s an ideal trip for her.”

Can Nezwaah bounce back?

Sheikh Ahmed’s Nezwaah ran in North America last time but was a bit disappointing when favourite for the EP Taylor Stakes at Woodbine in Canada, finishing fifth, beaten more than nine lengths.

The Roger Varian-trained filly won her first two starts of the season, notably the Group 1 Pretty Polly at the Curragh, but the doubt is whether she has slightly lost her sparkle.

She should, however, be better suited by the ground here and her trainer said: “She’s a firm ground filly and the quicker the better I think.

“Coming back to nine furlongs and being drawn a little bit wide, I don’t know that that’s ideal, but one thing that will be ideal is the ground, and how often do you have everything in your favour? I’d sooner be drawn 11 on fast ground than four in soft ground.”

Going back a furlong is not ideal for her but she'll like these conditions and she'll like the American pace
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