Lady Aurelia to ‘run her best ever race’ in Saturday’s Cheveley Park
“Lady Aurelia worked great on the Rowley Mile the day before yesterday and is ready to run her best ever race on Saturday,” Ward told Britain’s Press Association.
Since making it three in a row in the August 21 Prix Morny (G1) at Deauville, the unbeaten juvenile filly has been residing at the National Stud near Newmarket. Jockey Frankie Dettori is serving as a quasi-assistant trainer overseeing her preparations.
“When I wake up every morning,” Ward said, “there's a video bulletin from Frankie waiting for me, telling me how things are going - it's as if I was there. And he's been telling me that we are really going to see something from her this time.”
Lady Aurelia is arguably going to have to put up a performance closer to her scintillating Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot, rather than her less devastating Morny, to remain perfect. Was the step up from five to six furlongs a major factor last time? If so, she’d be vulnerable over the stiffer six of Newmarket, especially against a rival the caliber of Frankel’s daughter Queen Kindly.
But that’s the point to be decided in the Cheveley Park, and it’s premature to cast aspersions in the wake of the Morny. Lady Aurelia just wasn’t as electric at Deauville, even before hitting the final furlong, and Ward on Monday reminded everyone of the extenuating factors that had been in play.
“I gave her a month off after Ascot – before the Morny she just had four easy breezes – so in hindsight maybe she was not as cranked up for that as she might have been,” her trainer said.
“And, when you study the Deauville video, you can see that she steps in a hole at the furlong marker - there's a cloud of dust around all four of her feet.”
As of Monday’s entry stage, Lady Aurelia may face as many as nine opponents on Saturday. Chief among them is the aforementioned Queen Kindly, who may be better than anyone she faced (colts included) in the Morny. The Richard Fahey trainee is a third-generation runner in the Cheveley Park – grandam Queen’s Logic won the 2001 edition en route to European champion juvenile filly honors, and dam Lady of the Desert (an English highweight herself) was third in the 2009 running.
Queen Kindly emulated both her dam and grandam when capturing the Lowther (G2) August 18 at York, where she upset another Frankel, heavily favored Fair Eva (who finished third). Three-for-four so far, Queen Kindly suffered her only loss when a close third to Aidan O’Brien’s Brave Anna in the Albany (G3) on soft ground at Royal Ascot. The two have gone in different directions since. While Brave Anna twice flopped at the Curragh, Queen Kindly has progressed, and the blueblood relative of Dylan Thomas may have more up her sleeve.
A few other Cheveley Park possibles also competed in the Lowther -- Roly Poly (second), Nations Alexander (fourth), and Kilmah (seventh). Roly Poly is the better of O’Brien’s pair here. Although only eighth behind Lady Aurelia in the Queen Mary, Roly Poly has improved markedly over six furlongs, winning the Grangecon Stud (G3) at the Curragh and the Duchess of Cambridge (G2) on Newmarket’s July Course prior to her runner-up effort in the Lowther. Nations Alexander and Kilmah are both Group 3 winners at seven furlongs (in the Sweet Solera and Prestige, respectively).
Promising just missed to Kilmah in the Prestige (G3), Pellucid exits a slow-starting third in the Dick Poole Fillies’ S. (G3), Holy Cat was a distant second to O’Brien’s smart colt Intelligence Cross in the Round Tower (G3), and Velveteen has been unplaced in her Group 3 attempts.
Lady Aurelia is using the Cheveley Park as her stepping stone to the November 4 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Santa Anita. Newmarket stages a “Win and You’re In” for that race in Friday’s Rockfel (G2) over seven furlongs, and Fair Eva is all the rage to bounce back. Note that Nations Alexander and Promising are cross-entered to the Rockfel and Cheveley Park.
Saturday’s Royal Lodge (G2) down the straight mile at Newmarket is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). But if you’re a two-year-old who already needs the kind of stamina test served up by the length of the Rowley Mile, chances are a fast, two-turn mile at Santa Anita isn’t high on your target list. So as always with these international Breeders’ Cup Challenge races, caution is advised.
O’Brien has no fewer than nine of the 24 eligibles as of Monday, led by Capri. The Ballydoyle army has multiple options coming up, however, and we won’t know for certain until Thursday’s declaration stage. Mark Johnston can call upon as many as four, including Frankuus and Montataire. Godolphin’s representation features Best of Days, who was just edged in the Acomb (G3).
The Middle Park (G1), the race following the Cheveley Park over the same six-furlong trip, showcases the speedier juveniles who may be more suited to a task like the Breeders’ Cup.
Although the Middle Park lost its most anticipated player, Caravaggio (reportedly due to a pulled muscle that’s prompted O’Brien to shelve him until next year), there’s still plenty of intrigue afoot. Richard Hannon’s Mehmas, who had been second to Caravaggio in Royal Ascot’s Coventry (G2), makes his career finale before retiring to stud. That’s not a shock for a horse who was labeled a pure two-year-old unlikely to enhance his reputation at three.
Mehmas subsequently capitalized on his comparative developmental advantage to defeat O’Brien’s Intelligence Cross in the July S. (G2) and Godolphin’s highly regarded Blue Point (and Intelligence Cross again) in the Richmond (G2) (pictured). When stretching out to seven furlongs in the September 11 Vincent O’Brien National (G1), Mehmas was no match for O’Brien’s well-touted Churchill.
The cutback to six should help Mehmas, but of greater concern is that he can’t turn back the clock. Blue Point looked much more professional his Gimcrack (G2) victory, dismissing some useful operators in Mokarris, The Last Lion, and Mubtassim.
Intelligence Cross is likewise a different animal now, in the wake of his romp in the Round Tower. His stablemate from the O’Brien yard, Peace Envoy, was most recently a hard-charging third in the Morny to Lady Aurelia. Runner-up to Medicine Jack in the Railway (G2) before beating Psychedelic Funk in the Anglesey (G3), Peace Envoy is another on an upward curve.
Lady Aurelia photo by Frank Sorge/Horsephotos.com
Mehmas edging Blue Point (right) courtesy of Goodwood Racecourse via Facebook