Hard to look beyond the flying Pollyanna
WHILE today’s Middle Park helps sort the men from the boys – as much as you can with two-year-old colts – the Cheveley Park is as a good barometer for identifying the top two-year-old fillies.
However, it has a mixed record when it comes to finding longer-term Classic prospects, with the last 1000 Guineas winner to do the double coming back in 2009/10 in the form of the French raider Special Duty, who was awarded the Guineas only after a stewards’ enquiry.
The filly who very much sets the standard in this year’s renewal is the Michael Bell-trained Pretty Pollyanna, the only runner in the field with a Group 1 success under her belt, having won the Prix Morny at Deauville (Signora Cabello second, Comedy eighth) last month.
She’s proven herself to be the best juvenile filly around this season, winning on debut at Yarmouth in May, before finding the Albany Stakes too stiff a task when fifth on just her second start. She took her form to another level, however, when taking apart the field in the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket in July on her next start (by seven lengths from Angel’s Hideaway).
She was pushed a lot closer on her first try at the top level in the Morny on her most recent start, but found plenty to assert in the closing stages and, clear on Timeform ratings, she should continue to take all of the beating.
Behind Pretty Pollyanna at Deauville was Signora Cabello, one of the most prolific runners in the field with four career wins already to her name. She has made great strides since her debut at Beverley in April, winning Group 2 contests at both Ascot and Maisons-Laffitte during the summer. While her winning run was brought to an end in the Morny, that was her best effort yet, finishing clear of the remainder, and she looks the main danger to Pretty Pollyanna once more.
Aidan O’Brien has won the last two renewals of this race, and he saddles So Perfect, Fairyland, and Gossamer Wings. So Perfect was an excellent second up against the boys in the Phoenix Stakes and is open to progress back against her own sex, while Gossamer Wings needs more on the form she has shown so far. Fairyland is a more interesting contender, having won the Group 2 Lowther Stakes at York last month (The Mackem Bullet second, Angel’s Hideaway ninth). She boasts some strong form, her defeat of stablemates Van Beethoven and Land Force, both subsequent Group 2 winners, at listed level at the Curragh in May reading particularly well now.
Perhaps the most interesting of the Irish contingent, however, is Lady Kaya. She has shaped well in her four starts to date, not looking the finished article when fourth behind Skitter Scatter in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes at the Curragh two starts ago, before only just being collared by the same rival in the final furlong in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes last time.
The way she travelled through the race that day suggested that success at this level is no forlorn hope. She has 12 lb to find with Pretty Pollyanna on Timeform weight-adjusted ratings, but remains open to improvement.
The speedily-bred Angel’s Hideaway won the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot in July but got worked up in the preliminaries when failing to beat a rival home in the Lowther; she is better judged on previous efforts, but needs to get back on track.
Comedy may have flopped in the Morny last month (raced alone on the stand rail), but she had won three in a row before that and is not one to give up on just yet.
Two runners have been supplemented for the race at a cost of £20,000 – Queen of Bermuda and The Mackem Bullet. The former arrives here following a career-best effort to win the Group 3 Firth of Clyde Stakes at Ayr last weekend, a performance that suggested she is capable of running to an even higher level.
The Mackem Bullet almost pulled off a 25/1 upset in last month’s Lowther, edging ahead in the final furlong before being collared by a gutsy Fairyland.
She probably needs to improve again to justify her connections’ outlay in supplementing her for this.
Took on the boys: So Perfect looks best of Aidan O’Brien’s three