Alpinista Ready For Knavesmire Challenge

Alpinista | PA Media


Brought to the G1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks as a still raw 3-year-old in 2020, Kirsten Rausing's Alpinista (GB) (Frankel {GB}) returns to the Knavesmire on Thursday an entirely different proposition to the one who chased the shadow of Love (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) as she pursues her own lofty goal. Successful in the same trio of Group 1 races in Germany that her second dam Albanova (GB) (Alzao) racked up in 2004, the grey had already achieved something truly notable even before her rampant return in the July 3 G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. The likes of High Definition (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), Mare Australis (Ire) (Australia {GB}) and Hurricane Lane (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) were well beaten there and as his owner-breeder pointed out recently success here would mean she has won at the highest level in three different countries.

Sir Mark Prescott, the doyen of Newmarket, had charted the 5-year-old's path as meticulously as all those that pass through his hands only to have his best-laid plans derailed in early summer. “The original plan was to go to the Coronation Cup and King George, but we couldn't go for the Coronation because the filly hadn't come in her coat,” the master of Heath House explained. “That put her back in everything. She's now in the Yorkshire Oaks, whereas she would have been going for the Prix Vermeille. The cycle just got slightly put out from what we'd originally planned. It did look a very strong race in France last time out, but the ground was quicker than the other English horses wanted and I think it was more suitable to me so I hope it didn't flatter me.”

Perhaps Prescott's greatest horse so far was Alborada (GB) (Alzao) and it would be fitting if Alpinista, who is a family member of that dual G1 Champion S. heroine, could bring home a prestigious domestic prize. “She's always been the underdog and so far, she's proved herself to be top dog,” he said. “She's just very pleasant, she eats well, she's sound so far and she's just very, very straightforward in how you can ride her. I would think if all went well and she ran well then she would go straight to the Arc, but there is always the Vermeille if we need it.”


The Weight-For-Age Test

Prescott is one of those who believe that the weight-for-age scale is still correct and if so, Alpinista will be able to give nine pounds to Galileo's Oaks and Irish Oaks heroines Tuesday (Ire) and Magical Lagoon (Ire) and to Juddmonte's G2 Prix de Malleret-winning 'TDN Rising Star' Raclette (GB) (Frankel {GB}). Yuesheng Zhang's Magical Lagoon was adding to her win in the June 16 G2 Ribblesdale S. in the Curragh Classic a month later and it is hard to define where her ceiling is at this stage. Raclette is a supplementary entry, which is always significant where Andre Fabre is concerned and Barry Mahon is understandably excited. “She is a lovely filly and looked exceptional last year,” Juddmonte's racing manager said. “She has just taken a little time to come this year. We were trying to make her into a Pouliches filly and she just hadn't come. So Andre in fairness has done a great job, he has taken his time and she is starting to reveal her true potential. Obviously, Sir Mark's filly is a very, very good filly. We know how good she is, having finished second to her with a horse called Baratti (GB) (Frankel {GB}), who is a horse we like.”


Irwin's Plan

Team Valor International LLC's La Petite Coco (Ire) (Ruler Of The World {Ire}), who achieved a formidable feat in taking the 10-furlong G1 Pretty Polly S. on her seasonal bow at The Curragh June 26, is back at the mile-and-a-half trip over which she was so impressive in the G3 Give Thanks S. 12 months ago. Paddy Twomey's stable star could be the thorn in Alpinista's side in a race so strong it is bound to have a significant impact on the Arc. Whoever prevails in a vintage Yorkshire Oaks will enjoy the substantial bonus of having paid entry fees for the $2-million GI Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland, but Barry Irwin is hoping that La Petite Coco can first prove her class ahead of the major European middle-distance tests. “The main reason we are going to York is to test her against better horses and we need to get another run into her to determine if we are going to go for the Arc or switch for the British Champions race,” he explained. “We need to test her and this race will do that. She's a filly who kind of wants cut in the ground to be at her best, even though she beat Love on a course rated good. We're all set to go, we just hope we get a little more rain because she does better with a bit of cut in the ground. I was at Saint-Cloud when Alpinista won and you couldn't get more impressive than that, that was breath-taking, she scares the hell out of me.”


Putting On A Show In The Lowther

One of Royal Ascot's most impressive performers, Clipper Logistics' G2 Queen Mary S. winner Dramatised (Ire) (Showcasing {GB}) bids to defy a three-pound penalty moving up a furlong in the G2 Sky Bet Lowther S. Having earned 'TDN Rising Star' status with a four-length defeat of the subsequently listed-placed Malrescia (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) on debut at Newmarket Apr. 29, the Karl Burke-trained dynamo recorded strong sectionals in the Royal meeting's June 15 speed test and has since been freshened up. “She looks in really good shape and I couldn't be happier with her, to be honest,” he commented. “She did her last little easy piece on Tuesday morning and did it very well. I wouldn't have wanted soft ground for her, but I wouldn't have minded a little bit of rain. She's by Showcasing and they seem to handle most ground, so I'm sure I'll have no complaints on that score. She's obviously got the penalty to carry, but three pounds is a long way from being insurmountable, I think. We know she's very good. She's got to step up in trip and I'm not sure being drawn one is ideal, but it is what it is.”


Mawj Back In Action

Having also gained a TDN Rising Star tag on her racecourse bow at Newmarket May 14, Godolphin's Mawj (Ire) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}) went for the G3 Albany S. at the Royal meeting only to come off second-best to Ballydoyle's Meditate (Ire) (No Nay Never) June 17. Perhaps fortunate to have survived a stewards' inquiry when beating Lezoo (GB) (Zoustar {Aus}) in the

G2 Duchess of Cambridge S. at the July Festival July 8, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained half-sister to Modern Games (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) is bred to progress with time. Amo Racing And Omnihorse Racing's supplemented Lady Hollywood (GB) (Havana Grey {Ire}) is also there to test Dramatised, with the Alice Haynes trainee's defeat of Mauiewowie (GB) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}) in Naas's Listed Marwell S. July 20 now franked. Amo's racing manager Emily Scott said, “She is quick and so straightforward so you'd hope she would stay six, although it is a question mark having shown so much speed over five.”


Friday's Fields Confirmed

Sheikh Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum's unbeaten 3-year-old sensation Royal Aclaim (Ire) (Aclaim {Ire}) will face 14 rivals in Friday's G1 Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe S. at York, with the July 9 Listed City Walls S. winner drawn favourably towards the far rail in two. Low numbers dominated on day one of the Ebor Festival, and trainer James Tate is relishing the “Win and You're In” gateway to the $1-million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. “At present, she is going into this race better than she has into any of her previous three races,” he said. “I've had a couple of Breeders' Cup runners, but never managed to win one yet. She would be ideally suited to run there–over a fast five furlongs on fast ground. Whether we do it this year or another year I don't know.” The race's sole juvenile runner The Platinum Queen (Ire) (Cotai Glory {GB}) is drawn on the other side in 13, with the Aug. 7 G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest heroine Highfield Princess (Fr) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}) alongside in 14.

Also on Friday, Stradivarius (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) is set to meet old rival Trueshan (Fr) (Planteur {Ire}) in the G2 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup if the forecast rain arrives. “He won't run as things stand, on good, good-to-firm in places, but there's rain coming through on Thursday night. We don't know how much, but I'd look awfully stupid if it went good to soft,” the latter's trainer Alan King explained.


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