Deauville Festival: Prix Morny Preview

Lady Aurelia seeks Group 1 glory at Deauville

Champion American juvenile filly LADY AURELIA puts her unbeaten record on the line when she tackles the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville on Sunday, writes Nigel Howard.

There was much anticipation that this race would see a tantalizing clash between the runaway winner of the Queen Mary Stakes at the Royal Meeting and Coolmore’s recent facile Phoenix Stakes winner Caravaggio. Sadly, Aiden O’Brien has decided to side-step the encounter and is now preparing the current 2000 Guineas favourite for a crack at Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket in September.

The presence of LADY AURELIA has clearly scared off much of the opposition and ultimately only four will take up the challenge against the daughter of Scat Daddy over the straight six furlongs at the Normandy track.  The Morny has been her main objective since her Ascot romp, and trainer Wesley Ward plotted the same path with his previous winner of this Group 1 contest, No Nay Never in 2013. The filly arrived in France on Sunday and has been ticking over at the Deauville training centre in preparation.

This race has provided rich pickings for the English over recent years and indeed trainer Clive Cox returns here after victory with Reckless Abandon in 2012. He runs TIS MARVELLOUS who is in the same ownership as his previous winner and who also captured the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte ‘en route’ to this event. After that effort, Cox reported, "He took a little while to come to hand… but he is a proper horse who is going the right way and I am delighted."

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The Papin provides us with a notable form line through the Al Shaqab Racing-owned filly AL JOHRAH, who finished two-and-a-half lengths second to the son of Harbour Watch but who was previously seven lengths adrift of LADY AURELIA at Ascot in the Queen Mary. TIS MARVELLOUS is therefore some way behind the favourite but the manor of his victory at Maisons-Laffitte really impressed and he is obviously a smart juvenile.

Aiden O’Brien hasn’t won this coveted prize since Johannesburg stormed to victory back in 2001. Having pulled Caravaggio from the race, his sole representative is PEACE ENVOY who comes here on the back of a smooth Group 3 success at the Curragh in July. A son of first-season sire Power, that was his sixth career start and he is thriving on his racing. He represents the most experienced horse in the race by far.

With AL JOHRAH seemingly well held by both LADY AURELIA and TIS MARVELLOUS, the home team will consider the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned/Freddie Head-trained ALRAHMA as their best hope of glory. She, like the favourite, is unbeaten after two starts and deserves her place in the line-up after the daughter of Shamardal landed the Group 3 Prix de Cabourg over six furlongs at this track at the end of July.

Without the presence of Caravaggio, this looks like the perfect stage for LADY AURELIA to claim her first Group 1 prize. TIS MARVELLOUS also looks to be a class act and although he might not be quick enough to catch the wonder filly, she may at least know she’s been in a race.

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