By Jon Lees
Michael Bell admits Pretty Pollyanna’s Royal Ascot assignment now looks a “significantly tougher task” following Aidan O’Brien’s decision to switch dual Guineas heroine Hermosa to the Coronation Stakes.
On her most recent outing, Pretty Pollyanna was four lengths behind Hermosa when runner-up to that filly in the Irish 1,000 Guineas. She may have been among the favourites for the Coronation Stakes – until Hermosa was rerouted from the Prix de Diane, where the Ballydoyle representative had been expected to chase a Classic hat-trick.
Bell has high hopes that Pretty Pollyanna, winner of the Group One Prix Morny last year, can take a significant step forward from her performance at the Curragh. Hermosa, though, is a stern opponent.
“Hermosa will be very tough to beat and she deserves to be favourite on what she’s done,” said Bell.
“Before Hermosa turned up I thought Pretty Pollyanna might be favourite for the Coronation Stakes. It’s made our task significantly tougher.”
At the Curragh Pretty Pollyanna, who runs in the Big Orange colours of Bill and Tim Gredley, was able to keep tabs on Hermosa until a furlong out, when her rival pulled away to score in more emphatic fashion than she had at Newmarket.
Bell said: “It’s going to be tough to turn the tables, but you’d like to think she can get significantly closer. If we improve and Hermosa stands still or runs a pound or two below her best, you never know. You can’t take a defeatist attitude.
“On paper the draw at the Curragh wasn’t the kindest. Possibly you could argue there was half a length disadvantage compared with the winner. But we weren’t beaten by the draw, we were beaten by a better filly on the day.
“She definitely got the mile. It’s no secret she had had a slightly interrupted preparation, so hopefully she can get closer.”
Bell is hoping Frankie Dettori will be available again for Pretty Pollyanna, who will be one of the stable’s main hopes for royal meeting success.
Eagles By Day, who finished sixth behind Anthony Van Dyck in the Lingfield Derby Trial after winning his maiden by seven lengths at Salisbury, will have a choice of options.
“Eagles By Day is entered in the King Edward VII and will be put in the Queen’s Vase,” said Bell.
“We will do a weather watch. He didn’t like the ground in the Lingfield Derby Trial. He was swinging three out, but couldn’t pick up. We will keep him on fast ground.”
His other contenders will include Babbo’s Boy, a winner at Leicester and Yarmouth this year who goes for the King George V Stakes, Maxi Boy (Coventry), Applecross (Queen Mary) and Eightsome Reel (Hampton Court).
“I could see Babbo’s Boy being among the favourites for the King George V,” he added.