The Middleton Stakes is one of the features at York and a potential superstar makes her return.
The sky was the limit for SO MI DAR last season after she hacked up in the Musidora Stakes at this meeting 12 months ago. She tops BTO+ ratings going into today's affair and connections will be eyeing up plenty of Group One events this campaign. After her win in the Musidora, John Gosden's charge was a leading fancy for the Epsom Oaks but injury ruled her out of the Classic. The daughter of Dubawi was forced to sit on the sidelines for four months before making a smooth return in Listed company at Yarmouth. So Mi Dar just fell short on her final start of the campaign where she finished a three-quarters-of-a-length third in the Prix De L'Opera. However, she was behind Speedy Boarding and Pleascach that day and didn't have luck in running, so connections would have been delighted. Dubawi offspring mainly get better with age so So Mi Dar should improve as a four-year-old. The soft ground on the Knavesmire won't be too much of a problem given she's won on the going previously at Epsom and Gosden brags an 18% better-than-expected win rate with his runners returning in May off a 150+ day break.
Sir Michael Stoute is one of the best trainers for bringing on older horses. He runs QUEENS TRUST who improved hand over fist last season. The daughter of Dansili ran her heart out in three Group One races in the second half of the campaign. Queens Heart was second to superstar Minding in the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood before registering a third-place finish at today's circuit in the Yorkshire Oaks. After another third in the Fillies & Mares Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot, Stoute shrewdly took his filly across to the Breeders' Cup for the Filly And Mare Turf. Queens Trust displayed a superb attitude at Santa Anita and she gamely scored by a nose. Connections will be expecting much of the same from her this season. However, she's ran on soft ground just once previously which was in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot and could only finish fourth, so the going at York is not in Queens Trust's favour.
Gosden also runs THE BLACK PRINCESS, who looks to land back-to-back wins. The daughter of Iffraaj is still relatively unexposed, having had just the five career starts and is a talented filly. The Black Princess finished third, ahead of Queens Trust, in the Ribblesdale last season, and was then kept off the track for the remainder, likely due to injury. Despite a nine-months plus absence, The Black Princess made her return at Chantilly last month in a Group Three. She showed no signs of weariness and bolted up from Armande. She'll come on plenty for that run and jockey William Buick gloats a cracking 42% better-than-expected win rate over today's course and distance.
It could be a Gosden v Stoute showdown as the latter also runs SMART CALL. The mare was a class act in South Africa where she won three races at the highest level. Smart Call has the highest official rating of the field and holds and entry in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot next month. It'll be interesting how she runs but she may take a dislike to the cut in the ground.
BLOND ME makes up the field. She is a decent filly but is unfortunate to run in such a competitive renewal of the Middleton. Andrew Balding's charge won the Conqueror Stakes at Goodwood impressively first time out last season and also was second to Persuasive in the Atalanta Fillies' Stakes at Sandown. However, this is a big step-up for her and Blond Me runs over 10 furlongs for the first time.
Article Posted on Thursday 18th May 2017 @ 08.21
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