Royal Ascot runner-up Sacred bids to go one better in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at York.
The William Haggas-trained filly looked a high-class prospect when making a winning start to her career at Newmarket in early June, and came close to following up in the Queen Mary Stakes – going down by three-quarters of a length to American raider Campanelle.
While the latter is poised to take on the colts in the Prix Morny at Deauville on Sunday, Sacred remains against her own sex but steps up to six furlongs for Thursday’s Group Two on the Knavesmire.
“She’s very well, and we’re hoping for a good run,” said Haggas.
“She obviously ran very well at Ascot, so fingers crossed all goes well on Friday.
“It’s a competitive race, but I think she has a good chance. She wouldn’t want the ground too soft, I don’t think.”
One of the big threats to Sacred could be David Loughnane’s Santosha, who finished a close third in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket before claiming Group Three honours in the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot last month.
Loughnane feels he has a good handle on Sacred’s form through his other high-class juvenile filly, Caroline Dale.
“We’re going there hopeful,” said the Shropshire trainer.
“It is another step up for her, but you could argue she has the best form going into the race.
“Sacred obviously ran very well in the Queen Mary. But Caroline Dale was only a couple of lengths behind her that day, and Santosha beat Caroline Dale a couple of lengths at Ascot, so their form is fairly well crossed over.
“I’ve been riding Santosha, and she’s ready to rock and roll – I couldn’t be happier with her.
“If she gets beaten it will be because she’s been beaten by a better horse, which we can swallow.”
Santosha renews rivalry with Kevin Ryan’s Princess Margaret runner-up Hala Hala Hala, while Jessica Harrington’s Sussex Garden and Miss Amulet from Ken Condon’s yard are two intriguing challengers from Ireland.
She’s So Nice is an outsider for Karl Burke – but the Spigot Lodge handler feels she could outrun her odds, having chased home Hala Hala Hala on her Thirsk debut before winning and placing at Newmarket since.
Burke said: “On paper we’re punching above our weight, but we feel we’re closely matched with Hala Hala Hala of Kevin Ryan’s – and that’s third or fourth favourite.
“She’s a nice filly in her own right, and we think we’ve got a great chance of getting some black type.”
Once-raced winners Noorban (David O’Meara) and Umm Kulthum (Richard Fahey) also feature in a 14-strong field.
Haggas fires a three-pronged assault on the British EBF & Sir Henry Cecil Galtres Stakes.
The Newmarket trainer saddles Sea Of Faith – who has been off the track since winning at Salisbury 12 months ago – as well as the Queen’s recent Salisbury runner-up Award Scheme and maiden Lady G.
Haggas said: “There aren’t many opportunities to get black type with these fillies. In effect we’re cut off from Ireland at the moment, and if we get cut off from France there’ll be even fewer chances for them, so we said we’d let them all run at York.
“They’re all pretty useful fillies. I wouldn’t have a clue which one of them will come out on top – they’ll all be trying, anyway.”
Sir Michael Stoute’s Vivionn and Albaflora, from Ralph Beckett’s yard, are others to consider in a wide-open contest.
After the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, the most valuable event on day two of the Ebor Festival is the £180,000 Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes.
Twenty two-year-olds are set to go to war in the six-furlong sales race, with Tom Dascombe’s Devious Company very much the one to beat after finishing second in both the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket and the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.
Dascombe, who also runs Fools Rush In and Adaay Dream, said: “Devious Company brings a very good level of form to the race – and with the way the prize money is at the moment, we decided we wanted to run him in a race where the prize befits a horse of his class.
“He’s run four times, won twice and been beaten by two very smart horses in two Group Twos.
“Six furlongs at York is a very different test to what he’s faced so far, but he’s 100 per cent in every way, he’s clear on ratings and should go there with a big chance.
“Adaay Dream is a tall, leggy horse who I would not have expected to be running in early June. He’s just had a couple of runs, and hopefully there’s plenty of improvement in him.
“Fools Rush In, on the other hand, is a hardened campaigner who should have a very good chance of picking up some prize money.”