There was disappointment for the favourite backers yesterday as Air Force Blue went bust having held outstanding credentials and the same questions must be asked regarding Minding, the Champion 2 year old who signed off with a four and a half-length trashing of Nathra in the Fillies Mile. That form is the clearly the strongest in the race here, although the time before she won the Moyglare when having beaten Ballydoyle and Alice Springs in good style. Bred in the purple, she should train on and the vibes have been similarly good, although she is the right price and as we saw yesterday classics are open to shocks.
Lumiere, 2-3 as a 2 year old, showed real guts and plenty of dash to land what had appeared to be a strong renewal of the Cheveley Park Stakes when going to the front and never being headed despite the strong opposition. She showed plenty of precocity in winning her maiden (when he beat the next time out winner Sharja Queen) but you’d be disappointed if that was the best we’d seen of her and she has to be seriously respected. Second string for the Johnston’s, Fireglow is a useful horse but didn’t win a Group race on all her tries, including when beaten fair and square in finishing second to Blue Bayou on the July Stakes. Blue Bayou was beaten a nose by Illuminate on her second start and then won a Group 3 in good style – but was well beaten in the Moyglare.
Ballydoyle’s participation in this wasn’t certain until an impressive workout seen live on TV, but the beautifully bred daughter of Galileo (and a full sister to Group 1 winner Misty For Me) had as good a juvenile season as any, taking the Marcel Boussac (beat Turret Rocks, previous May Hill Stakes winner) after her second in the Moyglare behind Minding. She got three lengths closer to here there than Nathra did and the effort was even more creditable given her very clear preference for a fast surface. On good or faster she has form figures of 2111 and her close defeat to Minding took place on rain softened ground at the Curragh. Air Force Blue may have disappointed but Ballydoyle’s second string Air Vice Marshal ran a bold race yesterday and the stable are clearly still in form. 15/2 looks a big each/way price for her, and Skybet will pay 4 places at 7/1.
The French have won this three times since 2008 and Midweek looks to have been underrated. Too keen on her debut behind Group winners Antonoe and Qemah at Deauville, she won at Saint-Cloud in spite of taking a strong hold. On her first Group start in the Prix Imprudence, she led and beat off all of the field, but couldn’t hold Spectre after running green for most of the last two furlongs. Sure to strip fitter for that, she now gets good ground for the first and could easily take a step forward.
Nathra has already shown her credentials in the Nell Gwyn, moving best from the front and settling the race in one swoop before seeing off her rivals with plenty in hand. That will have her ready to run her and as an each/way bet there doesn’t seem to be much of a downside given what we’ve seen. Robanne ran a big race and will go onto better things through the season but both her and Mix and Mingle would have to improve massive amounts to reverse the form. Epsom Icon didn’t show anywhere near as much when seventh.
Alice Springs finishes off a three pronged challenge and looks likely to outrun her odds. Fourth behind Lumiere and Illuminate in the Cheveley Park over 6 furlongs, she was a close second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and was kindly handled in the Moyglare when third behind stablemates Minding and Ballydoyle. A recent run at Leopardstown will have her as right as rain for this and she can go well. Jet Setting beat her on her recent return but the ground was well in her favour and she was fit before that race too.
Ajlazzi needed more distance when fourth in the Fred Darling a couple of weeks ago and the ground may also be a question for her.
1 pt each/way Ballydoyle (15/2 Betway, 7/1 *Skybet, general)
1 pt each/way Midweek (16/1 Skybet*, 18/1 general)
SkyBet are paying 4 places.