Al Thakhira: Newbury hopeful
Marco Botti is optimistic Al Thakhira can put a nightmare trip to America behind her when she has her first run of the season in the Dubai Duty Free Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.
The Dubawi filly could not handle the lightning quick conditions at Santa Anita and finished tailed-off last behind Chriselliam in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
However, the ground at Newbury is certain to be on the easy side as Al Thakhira bids to prove herself a Classic prospect.
She had won her previous starts, including the Group Two Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket, in the style of a smart filly and has been pleasing her trainer in her work ahead of the seven-furlong contest, registered as the Fred Darling Stakes.
“At least the ground is not going to be fast, so that should be in her favour,” said Botti.
“She worked well at the weekend and is in good form ready to start.
“Last year she was impressive in the Rockfel. Let’s hope this year she still retains that ability.
“On her Rockfel form she should have a good chance.”
The Lady Cecil-trained Joyeuse has a point to prove after falling below expectations when only sixth of seven to Vorda in the Cheveley Park Stakes on her last start of 2013.
The half-sister to Frankel had earned her place in that Group One by finishing third in Royal Ascot’s Albany Stakes and winning the Listed Dick Poole Stakes at Salisbury.
“She’s had a straightforward winter and preparation,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah.
“She was a little disappointing in the Cheveley Park, but she has developed well over the winter and this is what trials are all about. We are very happy with her.”
Cape Factor won four of her five starts, culminating in the Listed Bosra Sham Fillies’ Stakes at Newmarket in the autumn.
Trainer Rae Guest believes the filly could encounter her ideal racing condition at the Berkshire circuit.
“She’s wintered well and everything’s good with her. She likes plenty of cut in the ground, which it looks like there is, which will be a big plus for her,” said the Newmarket handler.
“We’re hopeful of a big run and she’s in good form.
“She’s come on nicely and is doing good work. We’re very hopeful.”
Manderley is still a maiden after five starts as a juvenile, though she did run Wedding Run to three-quarters of a length in a valuable sales race at Newmarket.
Trainer Richard Hannon believes that performance gives hope of her dealing with the better quality of opposition.
The Wiltshire handler told www.richardhannonracing.co.uk: “Manderley steps into Pattern company for the first time in the Fred Darling.
“But she gave Wedding Ring a fright in the big sales race at Newmarket last year, and that Godolphin filly only just missed a place in the UAE 1000 Guineas at Meydan, so ours deserves to take her chance.”