Sussex Test for Poetic Flare

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Poetic Flare | Scoop-Dyga

At his best when the ground is on the quick side, Jim Bolger's G1 2000 Guineas and G1 St James's Palace S. hero Poetic Flare (Ire) (Dawn Approach {Ire}) has to deal with a testing surface as he faces up to his first test against the fillies and older horses in Wednesday's G1 Qatar Sussex S. Only sixth on very soft in the G1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains at ParisLongchamp May 16 and a short-head second to Mac Swiney (Ire) (New Approach {Ire}) on soft-to-heavy in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas at The Curragh six days later, the homebred is more vulnerable than he would have been without all the rain that has arrived but Jim Bolger is undiminished in his belief in the homebred. “Poetic Flare has been very well since the St James's Palace Stakes. We're very happy with his work and he seems to be improving further,” he said. “He's only had a break in as much as he hasn't been racing, but he's a horse who I have to keep moving and so it hasn't exactly been a holiday.”

“It was fast ground when Poetic Flare won at Ascot and it might well be that he's better on that better ground, but he seems to handle all going and he's pretty good on soft too,” he added. “My preference would be for good ground, but I'm not much given to worrying anyway. Whatever it is, I'll take it. I'm very happy with my horse and I don't worry too much about anybody else's.”

How the fillies stack up against the colts remains to be seen, but TDN Rising Star Snow Lantern (GB) (Frankel {GB}) and Alcohol Free (Ire) (No Nay Never) are among the elite of their sex and their own private duels have seen them win one apiece. Jeff Smith's Alcohol Free was in front of Rockcliffe Stud's homebred on ground similar to this in the G1 Coronation S. at Royal Ascot June 18, but she was only third as Snow Lantern prevailed in the G1 Falmouth S. at Newmarket July 9. Snow Lantern's trainer Richard Hannon had been considering the G1 Nassau S., but opted to stick with her proven route for now. “The decision to run here was in part ground-led, but we wanted to keep her at a mile,” he said. “She is learning to settle now and we don't want to upset her equilibrium.”

“If she gets beaten and is not good enough, we can give her a break and come back in the [G1] Sun Chariot in six weeks' time,” Hannon added. “She's doing nothing wrong over a mile and going a mile and a quarter on this ground might have been a bit of a stretch. If she relaxes, she'll get a mile and a quarter but we can do that next year. Sky Lantern was beaten here in the Prestige, where she looked like winning all the way but was a little bit weak as a 2-year-old. This filly is very versatile and if she got beaten I'd rather it was that she didn't handle the track than she was not good enough. This is soft and then some, but she showed she handled the ground at Ascot.”

Oisin Murphy knows Alcohol Free inside out and is hoping that the easing in the ground will help her in her rematch with Snow Lantern. “Alcohol Free is in great form and any rain won't inconvenience her,” he said. “I was pleased with her when I rode her on Saturday and hopefully she'll run a big race. She won't have any problems with the track at Goodwood. She prefers to meet the ground and the first half of the race at Goodwood is going uphill and then it's practically flat in the straight which will suit her fine.” Trainer Andrew Balding added, “It looks like conditions should be ideal. The turning track seemed to suit her really well when she won at Royal Ascot, so I think Goodwood will suit her really well. At Newmarket in the Falmouth it wasn't the plan to make the running and she rather set it up for the others. Hopefully if there's some sort of pace to aim at, she's got a fairly electric turn of foot.”

Ballydoyle's duo are the GI Breeders' Cup Mile first and third Order of Australia (Ire) (Australia {GB}) and Lope Y Fernandez (Ire) (Lope de Vega {Ire}), with the former coming back to winning form in the seven-furlong G2 Minstrel S. on contrasting  ground at The Curragh July 18. Lope Y Fernandez was runner-up in the G1 Queen Anne S. at Royal Ascot last time June 15, which represented his fifth placing at the highest level, and whether he can prevail at last in this company is a matter of how strong the 3-year-old milers are. “We are looking forward to Lope Y Fernandez and we think he's come forward again since Ascot,” Aidan O'Brien commented. “We are very happy with him. He's very straightforward and is progressing well. Order of Australia has come out of his win at the Curragh very well and the Sussex Stakes is a race which could suit him.”

Representing the form of Ascot's G2 Summer Mile July 10, Juddmonte's Tilsit (First Defence) and Abdulla Belhabb's Century Dream (Ire) (Cape Cross {Ire}) were first and second there with the former looking a cosy winner. Successful in the G3 Thoroughbred S. over this track and trip 12 months ago, Tilsit is one who has crept under the radar and as a lightly-raced relative of Kingman (GB) warrants respect. “He's probably come out of Ascot the best he's come out of any race–he's in great form,” Tilsit's trainer Charlie Hills said. “He won a group 3 at the meeting last year, so we know he handles the track.”

In the G3 Markel Molecomb S. for the fastest of the juveniles, Clarendon Thoroughbred Racing's Fearby (Ire) (Havana Gold {Ire}) holds pole position after his five-length success in the Listed Dragon S. over this five-furlong trip at Sandown July 2. Golden Horde carried the AlMohamediya Racing silks to success in the G2 Richmond S. two years ago and are carried by another Clive Cox-trained colt in Chimgan (Ire) (Cotai Glory {GB}), who was strong at the finish on his winning debut at Nottingham July 5. The G3 Whispering Angel Oak Tree S. is a wide-open affair, with the June 17 Buckingham Palace H. and July 4 Listed Queen Charlotte Fillies' S. scorer Highfield Princess (Fr) (Night of Thunder {Ire}) one of the more progressive fillies in the line-up for the seven-furlong contest.EST

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