Mark Howard Publications Ltd

Top 40 Prospects winner Opera Gift (11/4)

02-May-2021 16:11
in General
by Admin

Mother Earth provided Aidan O'Brien with his seventh win in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on Sunday and his fifth victory in the last six years. A daughter of Zoffany, she had some smart form last year being placed in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Group 1 Fillies' Mile over course and distance and runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies' Turf at Keeneland last Autumn. Despite that, she had only one of her eight starts and was considered the Ballydoyle 'second string.' Partnered by Frankie Dettori, she made a sweeping move on the far side and that proved decisive as she crossed the line a length in front of Saffron Beach.

Even though she could only finish fourth, the filly to take out of the race is the well touted Santa Barbara. A big powerful daughter of Camelot, she travelled strongly and appeared to be in the ideal position running into the dip. However, once push came to shove, her lack of experience shone through and she didn't seem to know what was required in the closing stages as she edged to her left. Considering it was only her second racecourse appearance, she ran a cracker only being beaten a length and a quarter. It won't be long before she is back in the winners' enclosure and it would be no surprise to see her racing over further at some stage this year.

Group 1 winning juvenile Alcohol Free ran well in fifth considering she was drawn on the wrong side, while Sacred travelled as well as anything in the field but didn't appear to stay. Expect to see her heading to Royal Ascot for the Group 3 Jersey Stakes (19th June).

While Opera Gift won at Salisbury, it was another frustrating day for the Top 40 Prospects in Ahead On The Flat. Sea Karats was another ran very well in defeat when runner-up in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes on the Rowley Mile. Similar to Santa Barbara, William Haggas' filly was having just her second outing having been unlucky not to win first time out at Newbury last month. She, too, had every chance but couldn't reel in the battle hardened Mystery Angel, who was having her tenth career start. Beaten a length and three quarters, it was a highly creditable run by the daughter of Sea The Stars but it was still disappointing that she couldn't get her head in front. A full-sister to stablemate and dual Group 3 winner Al Aasy, she will benefit from stepping up to a mile and a half and could be one for the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot (17th June). Congratulations though to the winning trainer George Boughey - it was the Newmarket handler's biggest success to date.

As discussed, the Top 40 did have a rare winner on Sunday with Opera Gift taking the City Bowl Handicap at Salisbury. A progressive four year old by Nathaniel, Andrew Balding's charge was always in control and wasn't hard pressed to beat Midnights Legacy by two and a quarter lengths off a mark of 88. A strong stayer, he still has a fair way to go before he can be considered a Sky Bet Ebor contender in August, but he has the correct profile and it would be no surprise to see him lining up on the Knavesmire on Saturday 21st August.

I will be back to update the Diary on Bank Holiday Monday and will include the end of season statistics for One Jump Ahead.



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