Johnny Murtagh has hailed “remarkable” filly Champers Elysees as she bids for a second successive Group One win, in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.
The trainer is fully appreciative of his charge’s rapid upward trajectory this term – graduating from a Curragh handicap win at the start of the campaign, to Listed glory and Group Three success before landing a top-level prize in the Matron Stakes last time out.
Champers Elysees subsequently changed hands and will sport the colours of Teruya Yoshida for the first time at Newmarket – and given it is only her fifth race this term, Murtagh remains hopeful the Elzaam filly still has something in the locker.
He said: “With a filly like her, you just don’t know when they’ll stop (improving).
“She’s been remarkable this year, starting off in a handicap, and she’s gone up to Group One company – winning all the way.
“This will be her fifth run of the year, so she hasn’t been over-raced.
“We know it’s a tough assignment and she has to travel, which she’s never done before, but she’s tough and genuine.
“Her preparation has gone very smoothly, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Champers Elysees had Irish 1,000 Guineas victor Peaceful back in second at Leopardstown, and Aidan O’Brien’s charge renews rivalry at Newmarket.
She is one of four previous Group One scorers in the race – along with the John Gosden-trained Nazeef, who landed the Falmouth Stakes back in July, Sir Michael Stoute’s Veracious and Billesdon Brook, representing Richard Hannon.
A shock 66-1 winner of the 1000 Guineas back in 2018, Billesdon Brook also sprang a 16-1 surprise in this race last year – and while she has yet to strike in five starts this term, Hannon believes Newmarket brings out the very best in his mare.
He said: “Billesdon Brook loves it at Newmarket. She seems to run 10lb better there than she does on any other track.
“We didn’t think she would win the 1000 Guineas, which she did, and we didn’t think she would win the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes last year, and she did. I see no reason why she shouldn’t run a massive race.
“She comes alive at Newmarket. The straight mile seems to suit her a lot more than a round mile. She is working super at home. She doesn’t need much work because she is quite a keen-going sort – you really don’t have to do too much with her.”
Hannon has a second string to his bow in the mile event, which forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series, in Cloak Of Spirits – who returned to winning form in a Listed race at the track last week.
He said: “Cloak of Spirits deserved that win in the Rosemary Stakes last time out. She is tough and a really sweet filly. Sheikh Mohammed Obaid has said to give her one more run.
“She is in good form, she loves the track at Newmarket, and she is just coming good. She came good this time last year, so I am hopeful she can run a big race.”
Comparing his two hopefuls, Hannon added: “Billesdon Brook looks like she is 15 in comparison to some three-year-olds. She is massive, very strong and robust, whereas Cloak Of Spirits is quite slight and elegant.”
Godolphin have three runners in the race, with the Gosden-trained Terebellum, Saeed bin Suroor’s Final Song and Half Light – who represents Henri-Alex Pantall and was supplemented for the race on Monday.
Feliciana De Vega, who is making her seasonal bow for Ralph Beckett, William Jarvis’ Lady Bowthorpe and the Amanda Perrett-trained Lavender’s Blue complete the line-up.