Rain at Haydock swept away any chance of Limato making the start for the Sprint Cup. And in the absence of arguably the ‘King of speed’, another Queen put her best hoof forward, slicing her way through both the testing ground and the inferior opposition.
Quiet Reflection had already proved herself a high-class sprinter earlier in the campaign, with victory in the Commonwealth Cup and a third place finish in the July Cup at Newmarket. The latter came on rattling quick ground, when she found herself ‘out-kicked’ by the lightning quick Limato. When Henry Candy gave way to the worsening conditions and pulled out his star sprinter, Karl Burke’s filly took over at the head of the betting. And that market faith was fully justified, with the result never looking in doubt.
Travelling like a dream throughout, she coasted to the front just beyond the furlong pole. Dougie Costello shook the reins at her and the race was over. The Tin Man came from the pack to chase her home, and ran with great credit, though he never looked like catching the filly.
After the stunning success, Costello told Channel 4 Racing: “She's won as she liked, she's the real deal. I've never ridden anything like it and probably never will again. She's push-button go. She was fresh today and between the five and the three I was running away. I got there a little bit sooner than I'd liked.”
Karl Burke has never doubted her talent, and added: “She'll go to Ascot next for the Champions Sprint and I'm praying she stays well and sound so she can stay in training next year. I knew she'd improved and strengthened. She's such a straightforward filly. The whole team have done a great job. I know we wanted a bit of rain, but I was a bit worried when it got this soft as I thought it might play into the hands of the older horses. She's just got speed to burn. She travels well and is so relaxed.”
David O’Meara’s Suedois ran another cracker back in third, and is surely a Group 1 winner in waiting. The five-year-old has now finished second, third and fourth in his last three at the highest level. Out of a Singspiel mare, he would have found this ground plenty testing enough.
Of the remainder, only Mr Lupton caught the eye, staying on well to finish fifth, having been given a rather circumspect ride from Jamie Spencer. Richard Fahey’s three-year-old has a major win in him.
Regardless of the also-rans, there can be no doubting that we have another sensational sprinting filly on our hands. And she comes along just at the right time, with Mecca’s Angel set for retirement after the Prix de l’Abbaye at Chantilly. There’s an outside chance that the Michael Dods trained Nunthorpe winner could run at Ascot if she recovers quickly from her French excursions. Though a victory in France would surely be a fitting finale for the exceptionally talented mare.
As this Flat season enters its final chapter, I’m of the opinion that four sprinters stand out from the pack.
Over the minimum trip it’s Mecca’s Angel and Profitable that have set themselves apart from the rest. The mare was sensational at York, but the Clive Cox trained four-year-old had previously won the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, before being stepped-up to six furlongs for the July Cup. I’m not sure that outing would have helped him, when he was then asked to drop back again to five for the frighteningly quick Nunthorpe. I’d expect a huge run from the pair of them in France.
At six furlongs Limato and Quiet Reflection have proved a class apart. Both travel powerfully through a race, and have a devastating change of gear. Candy’s ace looks unbeatable at the trip on quick ground, whilst rain tips the balance in favour of the flashy filly.
This season’s sprints have proved a pure delight. The Abbaye at Chantilly and then the Champions Sprint at Ascot will bring the curtain down on an epic series of contests.