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Alcohol Free leads 17 seeking Sun Chariot glory

Alcohol Free and Snow Lantern are among 17 fillies confirmed for the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes.

Having already won the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, the Andrew Balding-trained Alcohol Free will bid for her third Group One success of the season in Saturday’s Newmarket feature.

The daughter of No Nay Never will drop back in distance over the Rowley Mile after seemingly having her stamina limitations exposed over 10 furlongs when sixth in the Juddmonte International at York on her latest appearance.

Richard Hannon’s Snow Lantern was behind Alcohol Free at Royal Ascot and Goodwood, but reversed that form when claiming top-level honours in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket’s July Course.

The Frankel filly was last seen finishing fourth behind the brilliant Baaeed in the Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp – and Hannon feels his star filly has an “outstanding chance” of getting back on the winning trail this weekend.

“Snow Lantern is in good nick. She didn’t scope very well after France, but she has had the antibiotics since then and she has scoped fine,” said the Herridge handler.

“She did a bit of work yesterday morning and will now be turning up in the Sun Chariot on Saturday. She will run a lot better than she did in France.

“This is a golden opportunity against her own sex and hopefully she has an outstanding chance.”

Mother Earth winning the 1000 Guineas under Frankie Dettori
Mother Earth winning the 1000 Guineas under Frankie Dettori (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Mother Earth won the 1000 Guineas over the course and distance in early May. She is closely matched with Alcohol Free and Snow Lantern on her subsequent form, having finished third in the Coronation and second in the Falmouth Stakes.

Aidan O’Brien’s charge has since doubled her Group One tally in the Prix Rothschild, but could only finish third behind Jessica Harrington’s No Speak Alexander when last seen contesting the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown. The pair could renew rivalry on Saturday.

O’Brien could also run Empress Josephine, with Champers Elysees (Johnny Murtagh), Epona Plays (Willie McCreery) and Shale (Donnacha O’Brien) completing the potential Irish challenge.

Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Saffron Beach and Althiqa from Charlie Appleby’s yard also feature.

Goodwood an option for Just Beautiful after fine Falmouth effort

Just Beautiful will continue her quest for a Group-race victory after her gallant sixth-placed performance in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes.

A Group One race run over a mile, this year’s renewal of the fillies-only Falmouth was incredibly competitive both on paper and in practice.

Just Beautiful went into the Newmarket showpiece unbeaten, having won four races including the Listed Maggie Dickson Stakes at Musselburgh in June, but was still a 40-1 shot as she crossed paths with some of the highest-quality fillies in training.

Saturday’s race therefore represented a significant step up in grade, but Ivan Furtado’s three-year-old was far from outclassed as she led at a fair pace and was eventually beaten by two lengths and a quarter on the line.

“I was delighted with her run, she did run a blinder really,” he said.

“To compete at that level against the best fillies in Europe, the best milers, she proved she can cope in there.

“She didn’t have it easy from the front, they went a good pace and she probably didn’t start from the right side of the track with the way the race developed.

“It was her first time stepping up to a mile so to be beaten by two lengths and a quarter in the Falmouth is unbelievable, a great run.”

Snow Lantern was triumphant, with Guineas winner Mother Earth in second in front of Alcohol Free, who took the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

“There were some very good fillies behind her,” Furtado said.

“And the ones in front of her were the Guineas winner and the Coronation Stakes winner and runner-up, they are top fillies.

“To be competing with fillies 10lb higher-rated and run a race like that, it’s a phenomenal performance.”

Goodwood’s Group Three Oak Tree Stakes is now under consideration as Furtado plots a further bid for Pattern success.

“We’ll see how she comes out of and think about it,” he said.

“There is the option to go to Goodwood for the Oak Tree Stakes, but it might come too soon.

“We’re keen to keep her with the fillies because she’s not the biggest horse, we’re going to campaign her wisely and try to get a Group race.

“Going on that performance there, if that race, the Falmouth, was like previous years then she would have been unlucky not to get placed or even won.

“It just happened to be one of the best Falmouths ever, the time is telling us that anyway, and we still think she can win a Group race.”

Snow Lantern delivers on everything Hannon hoped she would

Relief was the overriding emotion for Richard Hannon after Snow Lantern came of age to settle an old score in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket.

It is eight years since the Frankel filly’s top-class mother Sky Lantern was narrowly and controversially denied in the Group One feature.

The 1000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes heroine was impeded by first past the post Elusive Kate in 2013, but the stewards decided the interference did not affect the placings and a subsequent appeal by Sky Lantern’s connections was ultimately unsuccessful.

Given her blue-blooded pedigree, plenty was expected by Snow Lantern from the start, while Hannon has never hidden the regard in which she is held by those closest to her.

She looked ready to follow in her dam’s hoofprints when opening her account at Newbury in the spring – and although an odds-on defeat at York in the spring was a significant bump in the road, a fine effort to finish second in the Coronation last month was much more like it.

With Sean Levey in the saddle, Snow Lantern was a 6-1 shot for her latest Group One test and charged home to defeat 1000 Guineas winner Mother Earth and her Coronation conqueror Alcohol Free by half a length and a neck respectively.

“She’s shown how good she is and what she’s capable of,” said Hannon.

“I always felt this filly was not good, but extremely good. Sky Lantern was by Red Clubs and she was exceptional. This filly, I think is exceptional and she has that pedigree, too – being by Frankel out of a Classic-winning mare.

“After what happened at York, I was sort of out on a limb thinking ‘she needs to do something or you look a bit of a plonker’!

“I think she showed that at Royal Ascot on ground that probably doesn’t suit her, and then she had to come here for what I thought was a very strong race – all the nice fillies were there.”

Asked if he felt the victory gave him a sense of closure following Sky Lantern’s reverse in 2013, the trainer added: “I always did anyway – you don’t want to win in the stewards’ room.

Trainer Richard Hannon
Trainer Richard Hannon (David Davies/PA)

“Once the day is over, I think ‘do you really want to win a race like that?’. It’s done and today is great, several years on – I didn’t get the prize-money back, though!

“I’m delighted for the owners after everything that happened with the mare. She’s always created a buzz and got a big following, so it’s a great relief she’s gone and done it.

“I think I shouted today and I never shout – usually when I shout, they start to stop!

“She looked like she was going to struggle for room and if you struggle for room it is generally because you have not got the horse, but he had the horse and it is great for him.

“Sean is riding great, but a winner like this does an awful lot for him and for us.

“There’s a football match on Sunday, but I couldn’t care less.”

Celebrations for the connection of Snow Lantern
Celebrations for the connection of Snow Lantern (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Whether Hannon shouted or not, there was no stopping Sky Lantern on the July course – setting up a likely appearance at Glorious Goodwood in either the Sussex or the Nassau Stakes.

On the future, Hannon said: “We’ll sit down and have a think, but I do think she’ll get a mile and a quarter.

“She’s in the Nassau and the Sussex, so we’ll look at Goodwood and I’d probably be leaning towards the fillies’ race (Nassau).

“She’s in the Juddmonte International as well, but I’m very hopeful she’ll stay in training next year, so I’m happy to give her a nice time.

“These Group One races you need to be at your best and there are no weak ones at all. I I’m delighted to win one and not be unlucky for a change.”

Snow Lantern powers home in Falmouth Stakes

Snow Lantern turned Coronation Stakes form around when beating Mother Earth and Alcohol Free in a thrilling finish to the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket.

Trainer Richard Hannon has never made any secret of the regard in which he holds the filly, a daughter of Sky Lantern who won the 1000 Guineas for the yard.

Sky Lantern was later felt to be an unlucky loser in the 2013 renewal of this Group One, so Hannon will feel a sense of vindication – especially as this filly is a homebred out of Frankel.

Having finished second to Alcohol Free at Royal Ascot, with Guineas winner Mother Earth just behind in third that day, the trio dominated once again, with Lady Bowthorpe doing her best to gatecrash the party but getting going too late.

Alcohol Free attempted to make all against the far rail, with Mother Earth keeping close tabs on her.

Sean Levey would have had a few anxious moments wondering if he was going to get a run, as he was trapped behind horses just as the pace quickened and he gave Primo Bacio a nudge when beginning his run.

The grey really picked up, however, and flew home with an irresistible run, winning by half a length at 6-1.

Mother Earth was a neck in front of Alcohol Free, with the same back to Lady Bowthorpe, who had to come widest of all.

Hannon said: “It’s very special because of the whole Sky Lantern story. It’s great for Rockcliffe Stud as they hadn’t had a Group One winner until today.

“We went to York to try to bag one of those (stakes races) and it didn’t work out, but she’s learnt to settle since then.

“She was a little bit unlucky in the Coronation. She looked exceptional when she won her novice at Newbury and she looked exceptional there today, I think – she’s a very special filly.”

On plans, he said: “We’ll sit down and have a think, but I do think she’ll get a mile and a quarter.

“She’s in the Nassau and the Sussex, so we’ll look at Goodwood and I’d probably be leaning towards the fillies’ race (Nassau).

“She’s in the Juddmonte International as well, but I’m very hopeful she’ll stay in training next year, so I’m happy to give her a nice time.”

Levey said: “It’s taken her a couple of steps to get to this point and it’s thanks to everyone in the yard. They have done a massive job. She’s not the easiest, so it’s great for everyone it’s all come to fruition now.

“She’s known to be keen, so my hands were tied as far as tactically what I could do with her. She came out of the gates fairly relaxed. As soon as they came over to that rail I knew I had to hold position when I was trying to settle her. I did think it would be very hard to get out of there.

Snow Lantern and jockey Sean Levey
Snow Lantern and jockey Sean Levey (David Davies/Jockey Club)

“Lucky enough I was able to switch her round just in time to pick them up.”

He added: “It means a massive amount. I’ve had Billesdon Brook, who was great, and King Of Change as well, but a lot of work has gone into this filly. In the yard she comes with a huge thing because Sky Lantern was her mother.

“For everyone it’s a big deal.”

However, there was a sting in the tail for Levey as he was given a six-day suspension for careless riding. He will serve the ban from July 23-28 inclusive.

Aidan O’Brien, trainer of Mother Earth, said: “She ran very well and we’re delighted with her run. I’m not too sure in terms of where next – there may be a fillies’ race in France for her, but we’ll wait and see how she is.

“We’ll keep her to these fillies’ races. We could try her over further, but she’s got plenty of speed.”

Of Andrew Balding’s Alcohol Free, jockey Oisin Murphy said: “She relaxed well in front and I just felt the race went to plan apart from at the three (furlong pole) when we got racing a little early. I tried to save horse, but the last 50 yards told.”

Kieran Shoemark was aboard Lady Bowthorpe for William Jarvis and said: “It was a good run and I think the 10 furlongs of the Nassau Stakes will really suit her. She’ll get the extra two furlongs easy and she was unlucky here.

“She didn’t get the splits so I had to switch out and she’s run well. I have no doubts that she’s the best filly in the race.”

Balding optimistic as Alcohol Free seeks Falmouth glory

Andrew Balding is “full of hope” that Alcohol Free can follow up success at Royal Ascot with another Group One victory in a mouthwatering renewal of the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes.

Having rounded off her juvenile campaign with a top-level triumph in the Cheveley Park Stakes, the daughter of No Nay Never made a successful return in the Fred Darling at Newbury to earn herself a tilt at Classic glory in the 1000 Guineas.

Alcohol Free was beaten two lengths into fifth place over the Rowley Mile, but turned the tables on the winner Mother Earth when landing the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot last month.

The pair will do battle for a third time in the feature event on day two of Newmarket’s July Festival, with Coronation Stakes runner-up Snow Lantern also in contention.

Balding said: “It looks a proper race – but Alcohol Free is in good form, and we hope she’ll be as effective on the faster conditions as she was on the heavy ground at Ascot.

“We were delighted with her performance in the Coronation, so we go to Newmarket full of hope.

“We’re renewing rivalry with a couple, and there are some very good older fillies in the race as well – it’s a proper Group One race.”

Richard Hannon has never made any secret of the regard in which he holds Snow Lantern, whose dam Sky Lantern finished a neck second to Elusive Kate in this race in 2013 – a result connections felt should have been reversed following interference.

Snow Lantern was hugely impressive when breaking her duck at Newbury in April – and while she was a beaten odds-on favourite at York next time, her runner-up finish to Alcohol Free at Ascot was a big step back in the right direction.

Snow Lantern winning at Newbury
Snow Lantern winning at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“Her performance in the maiden at Newbury was top class,” said Hannon.

“She has been brilliant apart from that one bad race at York, where she was disappointing. She didn’t breathe for three furlongs – she just held her breath.

“She was back to her best at Ascot. She came with a lovely run – she just got tight for room for a little bit, but she ran a lovely race, and it showed you could put a line through the York effort.

“The winner won well at Ascot, but we look forward to taking her on again in the Falmouth.

“We didn’t really have the rub of the green that day. Hopefully the ground will be better this time, which will help our filly.”

Primo Bacio has been off the track since beating Snow Lantern at York in May, having been withdrawn from the Coronation Stakes on account of the testing conditions.

Trainer Ed Walker hopes that decision will pay dividends.

He said: “It was a really difficult decision to take her out – we didn’t know that she would not have liked that ground, because she’s by Awtaad who loved the mud. Lots of people were questioning my decision on that basis – but knowing the filly, I just didn’t feel it was right.

“She is a good-moving filly with a really smart turn of foot, and I think running her on a stiff mile in real bottomless ground and putting a massive emphasis on stamina just wasn’t right.

“Andrea Atzeni got on seriously well with her at York and he rides her again, so that’s good news. I’ve known Andrea for a long time and use him a lot when available, and he’s a brilliant rider. He’s got that cool, and it suits a filly like that really well.”

Jane Chapple-Hyam’s 1000 Guineas runner-up Saffron Beach drops back to a mile after seemingly failing to stay over a mile and a half in the Oaks at Epsom last month.

“When she went for the 1000 Guineas I felt she’d be in the first three – and although the Falmouth looks a very strong race, she’s definitely entitled to be involved in the finish again,” said Chapple-Hyam.

“One thing we have going for us is that nearly all of her main opponents – bar Primo Bacio – ran at Royal Ascot, so it’s going to be interesting to see how they turn around in just three weeks, particularly the three-year-olds who ran in the Coronation on heavy ground.

“We’ve had five weeks since the Oaks, and that’s definitely a plus.”

The older brigade includes the first five home in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at the Royal meeting.

On that occasion, John and Thady Gosden’s Indie Angel led home Lady Bowthorpe (William Jarvis), Queen Power (Sir Michael Stoute), Champers Elysees (Johnny Murtagh) and Lavender’s Blue (Amanda Perrett) respectively.

Frankie Dettori celebrates after winning the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes on Indie Angel
Frankie Dettori celebrates after winning the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes on Indie Angel (Steven Paston/PA)

Indie Angel had to be supplemented for this race – and Chris Richardson, managing director for owners Cheveley Park Stud, said: “She deserves to be in it.

“If it had closed a day after the Duke of Cambridge. rather than the day before, she would have been in it.

“She bounces off quick ground, so we’re just hoping there’s no more rain.

“She’s in good form. John is very happy with her, and hopefully Frankie (Dettori) can work his magic again.”

Illykato (Mick Channon), the unbeaten Just Beautiful (Ivan Furtado) and Pretty Gorgeous (Joseph O’Brien) complete the field.

Primo Bacio ‘flying’ as Falmouth looms

Primo Bacio’s performance in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket on Friday could be one to make up for her Royal Ascot absence.

The Ed Walker-trained three-year-old was an impressive winner of the Listed Oaks Farm Stables Fillies’ Stakes when last seen at York in mid-May.

A run in the Coronation Stakes at the Royal meeting was next on the agenda, but the wet weather put paid to that idea as Walker withdrew the filly when the ground became heavy.

Walker’s top-class sprinter Starman was also an Ascot non-runner for the same reason and joins Primo Bacio in rerouting to Newmarket, with the colt set to contest the showpiece July Cup on Saturday.

“Funnily enough I feel more confident about her, though this is a hard race and she’s taking on the older horses as well,” he said.

“Maybe confident is the wrong word, I’d say I feel more confident she’s going to run a good race.

“At Ascot I just wasn’t sure about the ground or the round course.

“Me knowing the filly, I just didn’t think it was right, she’s a really good filly with a good turn of foot – running a stiff mile in bottomless ground just didn’t feel right.

“It might be a blessing in disguise that we are where we are, she’s really fresh and looking fantastic.”

Primo Bacio has been described as something of a hard puller after her six career starts, but Walker feels she is settling and that some of her perceived over enthusiasm is actually just her naturally high head carriage.

“I think she’s getting better and better in that regard, she’s by a mare called Suvenna and her nickname in the yard is Sassy Sue because she is sassy, she’s got that edge,” he said.

“She’s got a high head carriage which makes her look as though she’s pulling harder than she actually is, but she does that just walking around the paddock – that’s just her.”

Walker’s confidence in the Awtaad filly has been further boosted by the form of Godolphin’s Creative Flair, who finished behind her at York and then went on to take the Listed Abingdon Stakes at Newbury on her next run.

“The Godolphin filly won a Listed race next time,” Walker said.

“And it’s just the way she went through the race and made them look ordinary.

“It’s really exciting to see where she’s going to end up, this filly.

“She’s flying, she’s in really good nick.”

Snow Lantern on Falmouth mission for Hannon

Richard Hannon will seek some Newmarket “closure” as Snow Lantern goes for gold in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes on Friday.

The Frankel filly is a daughter of Sky Lantern, who finished a neck second in the Group One contest for Hannon’s father, Richard senior, in 2013 after a dramatic battle during the closing stages that saw Elusive Kate hold on to victory following a stewards’ inquiry.

Hannon believes Sky Lantern should have been awarded the race, but he will be looking to Snow Lantern to right the wrong and continue her rapid upward trajectory this term.

Snow Lantern raced just once as a juvenile – but has made significant strides in 2021, winning a Newbury maiden before disappointing slightly at York and bouncing back with a fine second to Alcohol Free in the Coronation Stakes on her Group One debut.

Snow Lantern (right) chased home Alcohol Free at Ascot
Snow Lantern (right) chased home Alcohol Free at Ascot (David Davies/PA)

Hannon said: “We were disappointed on the day with Sky Lantern. I thought we should have been given the race but we weren’t, but we then beat Elusive Kate later in the season in the Sun Chariot Stakes.

“Snow Lantern hasn’t won a 1000 Guineas like her mum, but she is going there hopefully to win where her mother didn’t but should have, and it would be nice if she did just that.

“She is as fresh as a daisy. It would be nice if she could win the race as her mother deserved it. She is in good nick and is good enough to win a race like this.

“There is a score to be settled there and it would give us some sort of closure.”

Elusive Kate (left) beat Sky Lantern (right) in the Falmouth Stakes
Elusive Kate (left) beat Sky Lantern (right) in the Falmouth Stakes (Steve Parsons/PA)

Sky Lantern retired as a four-times Group One winner, including her 2013 Classic success, and while Snow Lantern has plenty to do to match her achievements, Hannon thinks she could rise to the challenge.

He added: “She has got a smaller profile than her mother at the moment, but she is just coming good. She is a Frankel out of a Guineas winner. She really is the image of her mother. I’ve never known one so similar.

“She is quite a butch filly and thick-set. The revs are a bit higher than her mother because she is a Frankel, but she could easily be as good as her mum.”

Lusail (left) could contest the July Stakes
Lusail (left) could contest the July Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Lusail is also due to strut his stuff at Newmarket this week, with Hannon favouring Thursday’s Group Two Tattersalls July Stakes for the son of Mehmas.

He won over seven at the track last month – but Hannon thinks coming back in trip could be the best course.

He said: “I think he might be a six-furlong horse, but we don’t know whether to go for the July Stakes or the Superlative Stakes.

“We will work him at home first and go from there. He is still not there in his coat, but he has been like that all his life.

“He won well at York, then I don’t know what went wrong at Pontefract but it did. He is going to go to Newmarket for one of the two, but at the minute I’m thinking of the July Stakes.”

Indie Angel added to Falmouth Stakes field

Indie Angel has been supplemented for the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket on Friday.

The four-year-old, trained by John and Thady Gosden, is one of seven older horses in a list of 17 fillies and mares left in the one-mile Group One at the confirmation stage.

Indie Angel has been given her chance at the top level after winning the Group Two Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The five horses immediately behind her that day – Lady Bowthorpe, Queen Power, Champers Elysees, Lavender’s Blue and Fooraat – are also in contention.

The three-year-old brigade is led by the Andrew Balding-trained Alcohol Free, winner of the Coronation Stakes at the Royal meeting.

The second and third in that race, Snow Lantern and Mother Earth, could well reoppose. The latter, winner of the 1000 Guineas, is one of two from Aidan O’Brien’s stable along with Irish 1000 Guineas and French Oaks heroine Empress Josephine.

Other three-year-old fillies in the mix include No Speak Alexander, Primo Bacio and Saffron Beach.

Sandrine was also a winner at the Royal fixture, in the Albany Stakes, and features in 11 possibles for the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes.

The Ralph Beckett-trained Hello You was a length and a half behind Andrew Balding’s filly and is set reoppose.

Jarvis looking towards Falmouth run for Lady Bowthorpe

Lady Bowthorpe is to seek Group One glory against her own sex in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket on July 9 as long as the ground is suitable.

The five-year-old mare was runner-up to Palace Pier in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on her first try at the top level when taking on colts and geldings.

She ran against other females on her latest start when second to Indie Angel in the Group Two Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Trainer William Jarvis reports Lady Bowthorpe, owned by music agent Emma Banks, to have taken that race well.

“She’s come out of it pretty well and we’re very pleased with her,” said the Newmarket handler.

“Providing the ground isn’t too quick, she’ll go for the Falmouth Stakes at the July meeting.”