2019 Sun Chariot Stakes verdict – Guineas queen to prevail in Newmarket’s Saturday highlight
Our expert takes a look through the final field for the Sun Chariot Stakes and provides readers with his tips for Group One feature at Newmarket on Saturday 5th October.
The week after fans were wowed by races like the Middle Park, Cheveley Park and the Cambridgeshire, Newmarket racecourse opens their gates once again, as a field of fantastic fillies and mares take part in the Sun Chariot Stakes.
First staged at flat racing HQ in 1966, top names from across Europe have sought fame and fortune in this Group One, with greats like Time Charter, Attraction and three-time winner, Sahpresa adding their names to the honours’ boards at Newmarket.
Laurens (7/2 William Hill) will bid to become just the third horse to retain her Sun Chariot Stakes crown when she returns to Newmarket on Saturday. Karl Burke’s lovable filly bolstered her broodmare fee no end by winning her first Group One as a four-year-old at Deauville in July, where she stayed on gamely to hold off With You in the Prix Rothschild.
While she remains one of my favourite ever flat racers and has earned the affections of the British sporting public, there have been signs this season that Laurens has regressed. Following that win over in France, Burke’s filly couldn’t shrug-off Shine So Bright in the City Of York Stakes and the winner did nothing to boost the form of that victory on his following outing in the Park Stakes.
Laurens was picked off by three three-year-olds – two of whom re-oppose Burke’s front-runner on Saturday – when finishing fourth in the Matron Stakes last time out. Even though the soft ground at Newmarket will certainly be in Laurens’ favour, there’s no doubting the market leader is vulnerable.
Iridessa (4/1 Unibet) came through to claim victory in the Matron Stakes, adding a third Group One to her collection. As a two-year-old, Joseph O’Brien’s charge won the Fillies’ Mile here on the Rowley Mile and upset Pink Dogwood to win the Pretty Polly Stakes earlier in the Summer. The Breeders’ Cup is the big goal for Iridessa, but there’s no reason why she can’t claim a fourth top-level title before setting sail for Santa Anita.
Hermosa (5/1 Unibet) was the star of the first half of the season, winning back-to-back Classics in the British and Irish 1000 Guineas. Many expected Aidan O’Brien’s filly to bounce back from a surprise loss at Royal Ascot when she stepped up in trip in the Nassau Stakes, but Hermosa flopped big-time at Goodwood, labouring over the line last as if something was amiss. She fared much better on her return to a mile in the Matron, coming up just half-a-length short of Iridessa and O’Brien will fancy his fillies’ chances of turning the tables on her rival.
Sir Michael Stoute has worked his magic with Veracious (7/2 Ladbrokes) this season. Despite some poor performances in weaker races earlier in the campaign, Stoute’s four-year-old held off One Master to claim a maiden Group One in the Falmouth Stakes during the July Festival. Veracious will have plenty of support at the weekend. I just feel that was a particularly weak renewal of the Falmouth and I’m not sure Veracious will relish the testing ground conditions.
Lavendar’s Blue (6/1 William Hill) sprung from the woodwork to win the Atalanta Stakes at Sandown, having not appeared since finishing last of 14 in the Oaks at Epsom. Amanda Perrett’s filly came home like a classy filly to score in that Group Three, but this is a steep step up in class and I’m not totally convinced Lavendar’s Blue will be up to it.
I Can Fly (12/1 Unibet) finished fourth in this race last season, before almost getting up to ruin Roaring Lion’s farewell in the QEII. Aidan O’Brien’s filly has failed to win in eight starts since returning with a victory at Dundalk back in March and she was beaten eight lengths in the Matron Stakes last time out.
Henri-Alex Pantall has thrown two of his top filly’s into the mix, but neither Madeline Must (16/1 Ladbrokes) nor Crown Walk (25/1 Unibet) have shown the sort of form to suggest they are up to Group One level. Former Guineas winner, Billesdon Brook (20/1 William Hill) rounds off Saturday’s field, but she’s only been good enough to win Listed and Group Three races since that surprise Classic triumph.
With Laurens and Veracious offering little appeal at their current prices, I fancy the Sun Chariot trophy will be returning to Ireland on Saturday afternoon. Iridessa got the better of HERMOSA last time out, meaning the three-year-olds had now beaten each other on two occasions apiece. Aidan O’Brien’s filly comfortably beat Iridessa in the Guineas here earlier in the campaign and I think the conditions of Saturday’s race will give Hermosa the edge once again.
Iridessa finished third on the only time she has ever encountered soft ground. Hermosa, on the other hand, managed to win a maiden at Galway and came up just half-a-length short of Royal Meeting on fairly bottomless ground in last year’s Criterium International.
O’Brien gave Hermosa six weeks off after that defeat at Goodwood, where her performance was simply too bad to be true. Hermosa shaped nicely enough on her return in the Matron and is fully entitled to come on from that run. She looks the best value bet in the race to me at 5/1.