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Zain Claudette floors Sandrine in Lowther

Zain Claudette emerged as a 1000 Guineas contender as she gave Ray Dawson his biggest career success in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at York.

Dawson stood up in the irons to celebrate as he crossed the line, accounting for the previously unbeaten Sandrine in the Group Two over six furlongs on the Knavesmire.

The Ismail Mohammed-trained filly had given Dawson his first Group-race winner in the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot last month, and the 6-1 shot proved a length too good for Sandrine, the 6-5 favourite, to land the spoils.

Racing under a penalty for her win in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket, Sandrine was slowly away as her Andrew Balding-trained stablemate Nymphadora made the running with Outside World, Zain Claudette and Nazanin prominent.

Zain Claudette was well positioned and quickened in the closing stages to score from the staying-on Sandrine. Desert Dreamer was third.

Mohammed said: “At Ascot she was in stall seven and was number 11 and today the same – these are my lucky numbers!

“After how she worked last Sunday, I was more than happy and came here confident.

“She is the best I have trained up to now.”

The trainer confirmed the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes as the next port of call for his stable star and feels she has the potential to make up into a 1000 Guineas contender next season.

He added: “We will go to Newmarket now. She has won three times now over six furlongs, but I don’t think she is only a sprinter.

“I asked the jockey if she could stay further and he said ‘no problem’, so next year, we will go for the 1000 Guineas.”

A jubilant Dawson – who lost his claim just a week ago and last year spoke candidly about his battles with addiction – said: “She’s improved with every run and she deserved to win that on her performance.

“Going forwards, Group One is definitely not out of the equation, she’s just so straightforward and you can see she’s so relaxed.

“It’s just an absolute pleasure to be a part of it.”

Anna Lisa Balding, assistant to her husband, said of Sandrine: “We knew it would be difficult under a penalty, but she was only beaten three-quarters of a length.

“She slightly stumbled coming out of the stalls, but you can’t take anything away from the winner who has done it well.

“We’ll stick to Plan A and head to the Cheveley Park next. The only reason we came here with the penalty was because we felt it was just too long between races, we had to do something.

“She’ll have a little bit of a freshen up now. David (Probert) said she ran really well it was just the penalty that beat her. She was also having to come widest of all.

“She’s done little wrong, is a lovely filly and while it is always sad when you lose an unbeaten record, they have to be beaten sometimes.”

Desert Dreamer seeks change of fortune in Lowther

Desert Dreamer is seeking to finally enjoy her day in the sun in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes.

The Stuart Williams-trained filly has had little luck since winning her first two starts at Newmarket, finishing in midfield after being drawn on the wrong side in the the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot before filling the runner-up spot on three successive occasions.

The daughter of Oasis Dream was beaten a neck in the Listed Empress Stakes, found only the unbeaten Sandrine too strong in the Duchess of Cambridge back at Newmarket and was touched off by just a nose when second to Zain Claudette in her latest bid for Group-race honours in Ascot’s Princess Margaret.

Sandrine and Zain Claudette are once again in opposition to Oisin Murphy’s mount at York, but Williams is expecting a bold showing in Thursday’s six-furlong Group Two.

Stuart Williams trains Desert Dreamer
Stuart Williams trains Desert Dreamer (Simon Cooper/PA)

He said: “We’ve been very happy with her since Ascot – she’s trained very well.

“We feel she’s been a bit unfortunate. In her last three runs, the winner has been on the other side of the course to her, and I’d quite like to get into a fight with them really! It’s nicer when they’re challenging.

“She tries hard and is very professional about her racing now.

“We’re very much looking forward to running her on Thursday.”

Zain Claudette’s trainer Ismail Mohammed is confident his filly has not yet reached the ceiling of her ability.

“She has worked well, and we are confident she has improved from her last race,” said the Newmarket handler.

“She is doing really well and is stronger now than she was at Ascot.

“This is not an easy race, but we have a good chance.”

The Andrew Balding-trained Sandrine will be a hot favourite to make it four from four, having proved her class and courage in winning the Albany Stakes at the Royal meeting on heavy ground and the Duchess of Cambridge on good to firm.

Sandrine and David Probert winning at Royal Ascot
Sandrine and David Probert winning at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

David Probert, who has steered Kirsten Rausing’s filly to success on each of her three starts to date, felt from an early stage that she could be above average.

“I sat on her early on in the year, and she had a great temperament,” he said.

“She didn’t show any sign of greenness, and you can always tell if they’ve got a classy attitude and a high performance. She just felt she had such a great rhythm, so I knew she was going to be pretty classy, but never knew how she was going to perform on the stage.

“I was worried about the heavy ground at Ascot and I was amazed by how she quickened and hit the line in the Albany.

“When I let her extend at Newmarket, she handled the ground a lot better and gave me an amazing feel.”

Hello You was placed behind Sandrine at both Ascot and Newmarket and has her first start for trainer Dave Loughnane after moving from Ralph Beckett’s yard.

Loughnane said: “She’s settled in nicely and she’s a lovely filly.

“She’s done absolutely nothing wrong on the track so far. It’s obviously a tall order to try to reverse the form with Sandrine.

“But she’s carrying a 3lb penalty this time, and we’ll have a crack at it – you never know what can happen.

“Hello You is a saint at home, but Rossa (Ryan) said she was a bit keen the last day in Newmarket, so we’ve decided to put a hood on her on Thursday. I just thought, with the atmosphere and everything, it might drown out a bit of the noise and help her a little bit.”

Probert looking to Sandrine to extend his winning streak

David Probert bids to continue his sensational run of form with victory aboard the unbeaten Sandrine in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at York on Thursday.

It has been quite a week for the Welsh-born rider, having claimed his 100th winner of 2021 aboard Typewriter at Nottingham on Tuesday before riding a remarkable five-timer back on home soil at Ffos Las the following evening.

Probert returned to the Welsh circuit to ride a treble on Thursday before a double at Newbury on Friday made it 10 winners in three days.

His tally of 110 for the year is just two short of the personal best he achieved in 2019, while he sits fourth in the Flat Jockeys’ Championship table with 65 winners since the season began at the start of May.

“It’s been a great week,” said Probert.

“Ffos Las is a lovely course and it was great to do it back home at a Welsh track like that.

“Everything kind of fell right. I knew I had some nice rides going to the meeting and everything fell into place.”

By his own admission, Probert was not an overnight success, having to work hard for opportunities after progressing from riding ponies in Wales to joining Andrew Balding’s yard as a teenager.

Andrew Balding with David Probert
Andrew Balding with David Probert (Bill Selwyn/PA)

He said: “My father had horses and had two ponies for myself and my sister Laura, who works for Charlie Appleby in Newmarket.

“We enjoyed riding the ponies early on and were lucky enough to do some pony racing at the local Welsh tracks and the flapping tracks at young ages and picked up a bit of experience doing that.

“At the age of 16, I then went to the Racing School in Newmarket on a nine-week course and was then allocated to Andrew Balding’s yard.

“I started there at the age of 17 and by the time I was 18 he applied for my licence. It took me a while to get rolling and get my first winner and make things work, but from 2008 everything started moving pretty well.

“It’s been hard to work to get to where I am right now, but things have progressed nicely and over the last year I’ve had some nice chances, so hopefully we’re getting there.”

The star horse of the year for Probert has been the Balding-trained Sandrine, whom he steered to a debut success at Kempton before partnering her to win both the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket.

The rider is thankful to both Balding and Sandrine’s owner-breeder Kirsten Rausing for keeping faith in him when dual champion jockey Oisin Murphy, who also rides regularly for the Kingsclere handler, could easily have been called up.

“I know exactly how hard this industry can be and it’s all about being in favour,” said Probert.

“Oisin has been champion jockey for the last two years and because he’s part of the yard it’s easy to look at him for the rides.

“I’m very grateful that I get the opportunities that I do get – to get on this very special filly and to be stuck by and have the faith in me to ride a filly of her class, I’m very grateful.

“It’s a bit demoralising at times (losing rides), I’m not going to lie, but that’s racing for you.

“They (owners) are looking for the best results and when you can get a jockey with better stats, you’re going to look elsewhere.

“It’s all about having a chance and it’s nice to have someone that believes in you.”

Sandrine is likely to be a hot favourite to make it four from four on the Knavesmire.

The daughter of Bobby’s Kitten will have to concede 3lb to each of her rivals, but having proved herself on heavy ground at Ascot and good to firm on the July course, Probert is expecting her to be hard to beat.

Sandrine winning at Newmarket
Sandrine winning at Newmarket (Tim Goode/PA)

He said: “She’s quite a light filly and I didn’t know how she was going to handle the ground at Ascot, but pure ability got her through.

“She had to prove herself then at Newmarket on faster conditions and pretty much did it the hard way as she was away from the field and I had to challenge wide.

“I had a sit on her last week and she seems in great form. She loves her work and loves going out with the string – she has no downfalls.

“Obviously she’ll have to carry a penalty in the Lowther, but she’s a classy filly and looks the best one in the race.

“Fingers crossed, she’ll give a good account of herself.”

York under consideration for Hermana Estrella

Fozzy Stack’s Hermana Estrella could return to action on the Knavesmire as a run in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes is under consideration.

The two-year-old made a winning debut earlier in the campaign, announcing herself with an impressive victory in the Group Three Coolmore Stud Irish Fillies’ Sprint Stakes at Naas.

The daughter of Starspangledbanner was triumphant by a length over the six-furlong trip and defeated Gavin Cromwell’s Quick Suzy in the process.

The latter has gone on to taste Group Two success when taking the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, but Hermana Estrella has not been seen since that Naas contest in May.

York could now be the scene of a comeback, however, with Stack considering the Group Two event for the filly’s first run since May.

“She might go to the Lowther Stakes up at York,” the trainer said.

“She’s a big filly and we decided that we’d just give her a bit of time.”

Stack confirmed that Hermana Estrella has not suffered any sort of injury setback, but rather has just been handled patiently due to her size.

“She’s not had an issue, she’s just a big filly,” he added.

“We are taking our time with her.”

Lowther assignment next step for Zain Claudette

Ismail Mohammed’s Zain Claudette is primed for a step up to Group Two level in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes.

The filly has won twice thus far, taking a maiden event at Newmarket in June before triumphing in the Group Three Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot last month.

A further increase in grade is now on the horizon as the two-year-old is entered in the York feature on August 19, a six-furlong event for fillies.

“She’s doing very well, we’re giving her a bit of good work this week and the following week she will do some work on the grass,” Mohammed said.

“She’s ready for the big race (the Lowther), the big jump, so far she is very well.

“After the race (the Princess Margaret), she was different, she’s improved day in, day out, she’s very fresh.”

Though the chestnut has swiftly risen through the ranks to take part in Group races, Mohammed is no rush to take on Group One performers and will first see how Zain Claudette fares on the Knavesmire.

“We don’t want to make a big jump to Group One, we need to do it step by step,” he said.

Zain Claudette (right) swooped to conquer under Ray Dawson at Ascot
Zain Claudette (right) swooped to conquer under Ray Dawson at Ascot (Nigel French/PA)

“From her maiden we’ve taken the Group step, we felt she was a Group horse so we stepped up to Group Three.

“Up to now she has been super, she’s doing very well and that’s why we’ve gone again for the step up to Group Two.

“With the ground, she will go on any, she’ll love any ground.”