Hughie Morrison feels that Stay Alert may have to pull out all the stops to win the Greatwood British EBF Stakes at Newbury on Thursday.
Registered as the Abingdon Stakes, this renewal of the Listed 10-furlong race for three-year-old fillies comprises some potential Group-class fillies – and Morrison is full of respect for once-raced rival Golden Lyra.
Stay Alert has had three runs this term, winning a mile-and-a-half Wolverhampton novice before chasing home subsequent Oaks third Nashwa over the same course at distance she will encounter this time.
Yet the East Ilsley handler fears the in-form William Haggas-trained rival, whose sole outing over seven furlongs at Newmarket in October saw the daughter of Lope De Vega score by five lengths, with Nashwa, who was also making her debut, back in third.
Morrison said: “We hope Stay Alert will come on again from her last run at Newbury.
“She has, for a filly, had a busy enough year (three runs), but we hope she will come forward.
“I think, if you analyse the form, the Haggas horse beats us 10 lengths or something. The horse which she beat easily (Nashwa), was the horse we finished behind at Newbury.
“It is her first race of the season and a different trip, but she is bred to stay, so it is not as obvious as it looks on first impressions.
“It could turn out that if the Haggas filly repeats the form of last year, she’s the best mile-and-a-half filly in the country.”
Six go to post for the race formerly known as the Ballymacoll with York’s respective Musidora third Ching Shih (David Simcock) and sixth Luna Dorada (Ralph Beckett) dropping back in class.
The field is completed by the John and Thady Gosden-trained pair Elegant Verse and Yummylicious.
The former is a daughter of Galileo, who stepped up on a narrow debut defeat at Newmarket to get off the mark last time over the same trip as she encounters this time.
Yummylicious is the most experienced in the line-up with six career runs and has an official mark of 80, following success in a fillies’ handicap at Nottingham.
Thady Gosden said: “It looks a very competitive race this year. Elegant Verse obviously ran very well on her first start and then notched up a win on her last start.
“It was a nice performance at Redcar and she is a filly who we expect to improve. Obviously, this is a serious jump in class, but she deserves to take her chance.
“Yummylicious is obviously stepping up in class considerably as well. On ratings, she has plenty to find.”