David Loughnane finds it impossible to split his two smart fillies Caroline Dale and Santosha in the Princess Margaret Betfred Stakes at Ascot.
Caroline Dale finished third in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot and has since come out and won easily at Windsor, while Santosha caused a 50-1 surprise at Lingfield on her debut but proved it was no fluke when beaten less than a length in third by Dandalla in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes.
“It’s a great headache to have,” said Loughnane, looking forward to Sunday’s Group Three.
“We only have 10 or 11 two-year-old fillies in the yard, so to have two of their calibre is fantastic.
“I would prefer not to run them against each other – because obviously I’d like to win two Group races instead of one – but you have to train them as individuals, and it’s the right race for them both.
“I rode the two of them on Friday morning to try to decide who’d win, and I couldn’t split them.
“I think they both have fantastic chances and I’m very bullish about both.
“They both have the strongest form, and their form has been franked since they last ran. I’d expect a massive performance from both, but I couldn’t sway one way or the other right now.”
Loughnane’s two juveniles have very different running styles, though.
He added: “They are both different fillies – Caroline wears her heart on her sleeve, bombs out of the gate and is dynamite in front, and if you are good enough to pass her they’ll have to fight for it.
“Santosha likes to take her time and saves a bit up her sleeve – she’s very tough. She was green still at Newmarket, and when she came with her run Dandalla just drifted across her a bit.
“She’s come on a lot, while Caroline just has so much ability.
“I think both are borderline on their way to being Group One horses. It’s a great position to be in, but I probably won’t sleep Saturday night!
“We’ve kept the same jockeys on them, because I’m a big believer in loyalty. I know Tom (Greatrex, Santosha) is still claiming, but in my opinion he’s a professional with a claim, and Hollie (Doyle, Caroline Dale) needs no introduction. They are two of the best in the country for me.”
Loughnane’s pair have achieved the most to date and are the highest rated in the field of seven, but Aidan O’Brien sends over More Beautiful – who was hot favourite for the Queen Mary only to run way below expectations.
Clive Cox’s Isabella Giles has won both her outings, with Jane Chapple-Hyam’s On My Way also defending an unbeaten record.
In the Betfred Valiant Stakes, also a Group Three, Richard Hannon’s 1000 Guineas winner of 2018, Billesdon Brook, goes in search of her first win of the season.
Narrowly beaten by Nazeef in the Falmouth Stakes last time out, this represents a big drop in class – although she has tended to show her best at Newmarket.
“It’s a lovely race for her, and she’s in great nick,” said Hannon.
“We keep her busy (on the track). She doesn’t do much at home, just canters, and it would be lovely to get some compensation for the Falmouth.
“I don’t think there’s anything in her saving her best for Newmarket. I’m not sure she knows whether she’s on the July Course or the Rowley Mile, but you do have to say her Newmarket form is her best.
“She has run good races at Ascot, though, and elsewhere. It’s all to do with if she’s in form on the day – if she is then she’s very hard to beat and if not she runs moderately, but we never know until a furlong and a half out.
“She’s a star – no matter how she runs, she’s loved at home. To have a Classic winner still in training at five is great for racing, and we’re all enjoying the ride.”