Trainer Karl Burke is full of confidence as Dandalla returns to Newmarket for the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes.
A winner on her racecourse debut at Newcastle, the daughter of Dandy Man turned in one of the most impressive performances of this year’s Royal Ascot meeting with a six-length demolition job in the Albany Stakes.
She was given a fright by fellow Nick Bradley Racing-owned juvenile Fev Rover in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes on the July Course the following month, but clung on grimly by a head – and the runner-up has since won in Listed and Group Two company.
Burke remains adamant his filly was not at her best on that occasion, having spiked a temperature during preparation – but having since sidestepped a possible tilt at the Prix Morny, the Spigot Lodge handler believes she is back at the top of her game.
“We couldn’t be happier with her. She’s ready to run and hopefully she’ll do herself justice,” said Burke.
“It took her a little while to come to herself (after the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes), but the last month has been very good.
“I think the bit of rain they’ve had will help, although she is a good-actioned filly and we were surprised how well she handled the ground at Ascot. I don’t think she’s ground dependent.
“It’s going to be an exciting race, with some nice Irish fillies coming over, but you want to be taking on the best in these races.
“We’re looking forward to running our filly – hopefully she can prove us right.”
Nick Bradley is similarly optimistic about Dandalla’s chances, saying: “I think she’ll be four from four by Saturday evening.
“There’s nothing better in my eyes – we go there full of confidence in her.”
The highest-rated filly in the field is Ken Condon’s Lowther Stakes winner Miss Amulet, who will carry the colours of Coolmore powerhouse Michael Tabor’s wife Doreen for the first time.
“She’s a very progressive filly. I thought it was a good performance at York, and she’s done very well since,” said Condon.
“She needs to step up again, but all the signs are good.
“She deserves to take her chance in a Group One now, and we’re looking forward to it.”
The Richard Hannon-trained Happy Romance has produced one of the feel-good stories of the season.
Bought for just £25,000 for first-time owners the McMurray Family, she has won four of her six starts to date – including the Super Sprint at Newbury, another valuable sales race at York and, most recently, the Group Three Dick Poole Stakes at Salisbury.
Happy Romance had the option of running in the Group Two Rockfel Stakes on Friday, but Hannon decided to bid for top-level honours.
He said: “Happy Romance is in great form. She has run well and improved all year. She has not run a bad race yet, and this is the logical next step up.
“What she has done has not surprised us, because she has always shown us a lot. She did well at Salisbury as she did travel wider, but she picked up well.
“This is a much harder race than the Rockfel, but you would rather be winning a Cheveley Park. There are only certain opportunities to win a Group One, and this is one of them, so we have to try to take it.
“It would be lovely to see her win a big one, with the season she has had – she deserves it.”
The William Haggas-trained Sacred would not be winning out of turn, having finished second in the Queen Mary Stakes, the Lowther and the Flying Childers this season.
Richard Fahey’s Umm Kulthum turns out seven days after winning the Firth of Clyde at Ayr, while Andrew Balding’s Alcohol Free was less than a length behind Happy Romance at Salisbury a few weeks ago and re-opposes.
The Mick Channon-trained Illykato and Zoetic from James Ferguon’s yard complete the field, with the latter bidding for a third straight win for her fledgling trainer.
“She’s been progressing with every single run of her life – she’s grown up and developed mentally and physically,” said Ferguson.
“She might not be one of the favourites, but I think she’s done enough to earn her chance at this level.”
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