Connections ‘very happy’ with Falmouth favourite Porta Fortuna

Royal Ascot heroine Porta Fortuna has the chance to cap a fine first half of the summer when she takes on her elders for the first time in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket on Friday.

Donnacha O’Brien’s star filly proved she was the cream of the Classic crop when winning a red-hot renewal of the Coronation Stakes at the Royal meeting, but now she faces a new challenge and a more experienced cast of rivals on the July course.

This is expected to be Porta Fortuna’s final action before a short summer break and her team are keen to see conditions in Newmarket remain dry to ensure the daughter of Caravaggio is seen at her best.

“She’s in good form and everything has gone well since Ascot – we’re very happy with her,” said O’Brien.

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“The Coronation Stakes was probably as strong a fillies’ race as you could have and all the best three-year-olds were there, maybe barring Fallen Angel, and she proved herself top class.

“I would be worried if it stayed soft and her two worst runs last year – even though she never ran badly – were on ground that was slightly easier, but there isn’t much rain due on the forecast and Newmarket can dry out quickly, so we’re hoping it can dry out before the race.

“The plan was to go either here or the Prix Rothschild. We’ll probably give her a little break after this and start her back in the autumn in the Matron Stakes and hopefully end up at the Breeders’ Cup at the end of the year.”

Also on the scoresheet at the Royal meeting was Running Lion, who roared back to her best in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes having been dropped back to a mile with good effect of late.

Her training team of John and Thady Gosden won this with Nashwa 12 months ago and attempt to repeat the feat with the four-year-old, who will be partnered by Oisin Murphy.

Running Lion winning at Royal Ascot
Running Lion winning at Royal Ascot (John Walton/PA)

“I was gutted to not win the Princess Elizabeth on Running Lion at Epsom on Derby Day, so it was good to put it right at Royal Ascot,” said Murphy ahead of the British Champions Series event.

“She was able to do her own thing and enjoyed meeting the ground. She was an impressive winner there.

“A mile is probably her minimum distance, and it won’t be to her disadvantage if the ground is on the easy side at Newmarket, although it doesn’t get that slow there unless you have crazy weather.

“Porta Fortuna has a lot of pace and she’s been very well campaigned. She’s done well from two to three and she deserves to be favourite.”

Joseph O’Brien’s Rogue Millennium was the defending champion when just over four lengths adrift of Running Lion at Ascot, but her handler believes this is the perfect place to see the 1,650,000 guineas transfer show her true colours following two defeats this term.

Joseph O'Brien will saddle Rogue Millennium at Newmarket
Joseph O’Brien will saddle Rogue Millennium at Newmarket (Damien Eagers/PA)

O’Brien said: “I suppose there is a lot of rain in Newmarket this week and we will be watching conditions, but we think this is the right spot for her and we’re looking forward to getting her out again.

“It’s fair to say her best form is on better ground, so we would be keen for conditions to dry out.

“She seems well and has trained well since Ascot, so we’re looking forward to seeing her run again.”

There is further Irish participation in the form of Adrian Murray’s Magical Sunset and Paddy Twomey’s A Lilac Rolla, with the latter looking to regain the winning thread having tasted her first defeat in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

Although surrendering her unbeaten record, she lost nothing in defeat when second to Fallen Angel at the Curragh and her trainer is backing her to get in the mix over what he feels is her optimum distance.

A Lilac Rolla winning at Leopardstown earlier in the year
A Lilac Rolla winning at Leopardstown earlier in the year (Brian Lawless/PA)

“She’s a progressive filly who won two nice races last year and has done well from two to three,” said Twomey.

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“Her form this year has been pretty good and the Falmouth or the Prix Rothschild was always the midsummer target after she won an Irish Guineas trial and was second in the Irish Guineas itself. We’ll then probably be looking at something like the Matron Stakes.

“Billy (Lee) is back on here. He rode our other filly Purple Lily at the Curragh, but that’s just the way it fell. They are two good fillies and Purple Lily is going for the Irish Oaks next weekend.

“I’d imagine this one is a miler, and we are hoping there’s a bit more to come from her still. She’s raced against (Coronation Stakes runner-up) Opera Singer twice and beaten her twice, and she’s a filly on the improve.”

Jabaara won the Eternal Stakes at Carlisle under James Doyle
Jabaara won the Eternal Stakes at Carlisle under James Doyle (Ashley Iveson/PA)

Roger Varian’s hat-trick seeking Jabaara returns to Group One company having excelled at Listed level of late, while it is David Menuisier’s Sirona who completes the line-up having placed twice over seven furlongs this term.

“She did something special against the colts over seven furlongs at Haydock last time when second to Tiber Flow,” said Menuisier.

“She relaxed more there than when she ran at Lingfield, and she was rallying really strongly, so I got the strong impression she’s ready for a mile now.

“We might as well have a crack at a fillies’ race at the top level – and all things being equal, she should run really well. I’m a bit worried about the ground but hopefully it’s going to dry out by Friday.”

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