It was disappointing to see Santa Barbara only finish second in the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday. Aidan O'Brien's filly has been highly tried this term finishing fourth in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on only her second racecourse appearance. Sent off 5/2 favourite for the Epsom Oaks next time, the daughter of Camelot didn't appear to get the trip fading inside the final couple of furlongs before finishing fifth. Dropped back to a mile and a quarter over the weekend, Ryan Moore's mount was pushed along turning for home before staying on in the closing stages. Denied by a neck by the four year old Thundering Nights, it was a good effort but Santa Barbara has failed to live up to her lofty reputation. In her defence, she has been asked a lot in a short space of time. The Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood (29th July) is an obvious target, unless the Ballydoyle team elect to find a 'confidence booster' at a lower level.
Thundering Nights is trained by Joseph O'Brien and the 28 year old is now in charge of Dawn Patrol, who was featured in last year's Top 40 Prospects in Ahead On The Flat. The four year old was purchased privately from Ballydoyle and he ran most encouragingly on his belated reappearance at the Curragh on Saturday. Reverting back to ten furlongs for the first time since winning his maiden at Naas in July 2020, the son of Galileo contested the Group 3 International Stakes. Gelded since last seen in public, Shane Crosse's partner didn't get the clearest passage but he ran on strongly only to be beaten a short head by Cadillac. A winner over two miles last Autumn, his trainer mentioned the Irish St Leger as a possible target in September. It will be interesting to see if he is given an entry in the Skybet Ebor Handicap at York (21st August) later this summer - the same connections ran Pondus on the Knavesmire only for him to disappoint. With a rating of 109 on Saturday, Dawn Patrol would be virtually guaranteed a place in the line-up.
Newmarket trainer Chris Wall has his team in decent fettle with 10 winners from only 54 runners during 2021. I suggest readers keep an eye out of the lightly raced Posh Girl who completed her education in maiden/novice events at her local track on Friday evening. A daughter of Outstrip, she was well held in two starts over six furlongs as a juvenile. Stepped up to a mile for the first time on her reappearance on the July course, she was ridden by Shane Kelly in a fillies' novice stakes. While no match for the warm favourite Gal Wonder, she wasn't subjected to an aggressive ride by the Royal Ascot winning jockey before filling fifth position. Sent off 66/1, she was beaten seven lengths and will now be allocated an opening handicap mark. A half-sister to a mile and six winner, she is bred to stay further and is the sort her astute handler will place to advantage in fillies' handicaps this summer. Having learned his trade from Sir Mark Prescott, Wall is an excellent placer of his horses.
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