Lady Bowthorpe is primed to produce her new personal best in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes for trainer William Jarvis and owner Emma Banks.
The mare was last seen winning Newmarket’s Group Two Dahlia Stakes by a head, from subsequent Middleton Stakes heroine Queen Power, and in doing so provided Jarvis with his biggest success in more than 25 years.
A step up in class therefore beckons in Saturday’s Group One over a mile at Newbury – in which John and Thady Gosden’s Palace Pier dominates the market as odds-on favourite.
Lady Bowthorpe is a 33-1 chance in a field of 12, but the team behind her is not unsettled by her outsider status.
“I’ve been thrilled with her,” said Jarvis.
“She’s come out of the Dahlia Stakes really well – and she did a nice, good swinging canter this morning.”
“James, who rides her, expressed huge satisfaction and pleasure and said she felt every bit as good as she did going into the Dahlia Stakes.
“We haven’t galloped her as such, but you’d like to think there was a bit of improvement in her.”
Jarvis knows that improvement will be necessary if Lady Bowthorpe is to hold her own against the likes of Palace Pier and Aidan O’Brien’s Lope Y Fernandez.
“I’ve got a huge amount of respect for Palace Pier,” he said.
“He looks the standout horse, and Aidan (O’Brien) doesn’t bring a horse over from Ballydoyle unless he thinks they’re a live Group One contender.
“It looks a pretty strong field – she’ll have to run a personal best to get involved, but I see no reason why she can’t.
“She comes from off the pace, so hopefully there’ll be enough pace on our side – that’s crucial.
“She handled the ground at Newmarket beautifully, and I think good to soft will be perfect for her.
“She’s got to up her her game, she’s got to improve. But she’s as good as I can get her, she’s in rude health – and we’ll find out on Saturday whether she’s up to it.”
Banks will also be in attendance for the race, part of the mile category in this year’s Qipco British Champions Series.
A music agent for industry leaders Creative Arts Agency, Lady Bowthorpe’s enthusiastic owner represents some of the world’s most best-known acts – with Katy Perry, Arcade Fire, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kylie Minogue and Green Day all clients.
She is used to dealing with talented and often mercurial characters, and can identify similarities between the human and equine stars in her life.
“If you’re hugely talented, often you’re not the easiest person to deal with – be it equine or human,” said Banks.
“All of my best horses have been the ones that probably need a bit more psychology attached to them, and that’s possibly true with some of my clients as well.”
The owner also pointed out parallels between her own line of work and that of Jarvis.
“There are some similarities – what I do for a job is plot and plan a music artist’s career,” she said.
“What William does, and I then butt in occasionally, is plot and plan a horse’s career.
“Some are at the top level and some are working every couple of weeks, but it’s still about planning and organising. It’s not where you are today – it’s about where it leads you tomorrow that I think is really important.”
Underpinning Banks’ passion for racing is her love of horses, and that appreciation for the racehorse allows her to apply the same measures of success to her equines as she does to her clients.
“I love the horses, that’s where it starts for me,” she said.
“If I go to the yard, and William goes in for a cup of tea, I can go through three packets of polos and stroke them – I go a bit Pony Club, and I’m fine with that!
“I really love the horses. When they’re talented and can win a race, or even when they put a good run in and have a personal best, that to me is a huge win.
“A huge win for me in my job is not necessarily if you headline Glastonbury or play Wembley Stadium, it’s doing the best you can at the stage you’re at in your career. Sometimes selling that 200 capacity venue is as big a deal as selling out Wembley arena, it’s all relative.”
Success this weekend would be a huge achievement by anyone’s standards, especially for a smaller team taking on the major racing operations like Ballydoyle and the Gosdens.
“It’s exciting, it’s really exciting,” added Banks.
“Whatever happens, I know she’ll do her best. William’s done a great job, and everyone on the yard.
“It’s a long season, but this fitted in really well – and if you don’t try, you’re never going to know.
“There is nowhere in the world I’d rather be than at Newbury on Saturday.”