Qabala provided the highlight on the opening day of the Craven meeting at Newmarket with a dominant display in the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes. The daughter of Scat Daddy had won on her debut over the same C&D last Autumn in a race which has worked out very well. Held in high regard by Roger Varian, she belied a lack of experience to beat some useful fillies on the Rowley Mile by upwards of a length and three quarters with her stablemate and Group 3 winner Mot Juste filling the runners-up berth. Quick ground is evidently important to Qabala and, granted such conditions early next month, she is a leading contender for the fillies' first Classic over an extra furlong.
The three day fixture got underway with a terrific duel between another couple of potentially smart three year old fillies, namely Maqsad and Twist N Shake, in the one mile maiden. It was the former who prevailed by a short head with nine lengths back to the third. The winner had caught the eye first time out last year before disappointing next time at Yarmouth. However, William Haggas hadn't lost faith in the daughter of Siyouni and she battled on well to beat the John Gosden trained runner-up. Maqsad will benefit from a step up to ten furlongs and she looks a high-class filly in the making.
Kadar, who features on the front cover of Ahead On The Flat, may have only finished fourth in the Listed Feilden Stakes over nine furlongs but he remains a colt of potential. Karl Burke's charge didn't look comfortable on the track and, having been tapped for speed when the tempo lifted, he kept on in the closing stages. I think he will be a different proposition on a flat track and possibly over further. It is also possible he will appreciate some ease in the ground, despite being a son of Scat Daddy. Don't forget subsequent St Leger winner Kew Gardens only finished third in the race twelve months ago.
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