Posts

Return to Newmarket – and quick ground – firmly on the agenda for Miss Amulet

Ken Condon is banking on Newmarket to provide Miss Amulet’s preferred sound surface as he targets the July Cup for his top-class filly.

Miss Amulet has encountered wretched luck with the weather so far this season, as rain has repeatedly scuppered her big-race chances.

It has restricted her, in fact, to just one appearance – when well-beaten in the mud at the Curragh in last month’s Irish 1,000 Guineas.

Deluges have also twice conspired against her at the 11th hour, forcing Condon to pull her out of an intended first start of the campaign in the French Guineas at ParisLongchamp and then again when the heavens opened on the eve of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot last week.

“It was obviously very disappointing,” Condon said of Miss Amulet’s most recent misadventure

“I rang her owner Michael Tabor on Friday just as we were taking cover from biblical rain.

“But we’ll aim for the July Cup next, two weeks on Saturday.”

Experience tells the County Kildare trainer that another trip to Britain may well deliver a level playing field at last for Miss Amulet.

“Nine times out of 10 (at Newmarket in July), it’s quick ground,” he said.

“It’s going to shape up to be a very strong race, with the three-year-olds coming through and your older horses again.

“But that’s where we’d like to see her. If we get on her optimum conditions, six furlongs on top of the ground, we hope we can see how we’re going.”

The daughter of Sir Prancealot proved on several occasions as a juvenile last year that she is highly capable – including when twice placed at Group One level, second over six furlongs of the Rowley Mile in the Cheveley Park Stakes and then third at Keeneland during the Breeders’ Cup.

Condon resolved to give her a shot at a Classic this season, but he is happy to revert to the sprint trip at which the Lowther Stakes winner has already excelled.

“She’s very non-demonstrative in her homework – she’s never been any different,” he said.

“But she’s in very good form, so we’re looking forward to seeing her back on the racecourse.

“She’s one that comes alive at the races. Whether it was America, or England or Naas or whatever, it didn’t matter – she turned up and looked very progressive last year.

“She remains a filly we have high expectations for. So let’s hope in two weeks’ time, we get to see her.”

Miss Amulet would be unlucky indeed if she encountered soft ground again on the July course.

Miss Amulet and James Doyle (left) win the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at York
Miss Amulet and James Doyle (left) win the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at York (David Davies/PA)

“I’ve been there a few times, and the biggest thing is watering and keeping it safe,” added Condon.

“Often you can get a tailwind – and the last time I was there, there were a couple of track records lowered.

“We’d a runner in the Duchess of Cambridge two years ago (Celtic Beauty), and it was very quick conditions.

“That would hold no fears for her.”

He reports Miss Amulet in fine heart at home despite her latest wasted overseas excursion

“She had an aborted trip the other day,” said Condon.

“But she’s back home and did a little breeze on Tuesday morning, and all is well with her.

“So Newmarket is where we’re going next, and that’ll dictate the rest of our season then.

“We’re very much looking forward to that.”

Ground key to Miss Amulet’s Curragh Classic challenge

Miss Amulet’s Irish 1,000 Guineas bid hinges on going conditions after heavy ground scuppered her run in the French version of the race on Sunday.

The filly was an intended starter in ParisLongchamp’s Poule d’Essai des Pouliches – the French 1000 Guineas – but very soft going at the Paris track put paid to that plan.

The race was supposed to be the grey’s opening run of the season, with heavy rainfall in both England and Ireland leaving conditions closer to home similarly dubious for a horse that favours good ground.

Miss Amulet is entered in Sunday’s Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas, but her participation at the Curragh is reliant on the ground drying out and the current forecast does not fill trainer Ken Condon with hope.

“She might run at the Curragh on Sunday, we’ll just have to see how the weather plays out,” he said.

“She’s very well and she’s ready to run. We’re happy with our decision not to run her on what we would call heavy ground.

“It wouldn’t have been the right thing by her, we’ll just have to see how the rest of this week goes.

“We’re anxious to get her started, we’ll just see how the week develops as it’s a bit of a mixed bag weather-wise, we’ll just keep an eye on that.”

The Curragh conditions were described as yielding to soft when the track last raced on May 3, with the weather between then and the weekend meaning Miss Amulet’s preferred good ground is highly unlikely to materialise.

“We’re not going to get our ideal conditions. She likes nice ground, she’s a good ground horse and we won’t have that,” Condon said.

“We might be able to run her on the easy side of good, or good to yielding. We’ll just see, we won’t get her ideal conditions as it’s rather like you have in England, there’s plenty of rain about.”

Miss Amulet enjoyed a successful two-year-old season, gaining her first victory in Stakes company when winning the Group Two Lowther Stakes at York before going on to finish second in Newmarket’s Cheveley Park Stakes and third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland – the latter both Group One contests.

If the damp spring weather means a tilt at a Classic evades the filly, Royal Ascot in June is next on the agenda with the six-furlong Commonwealth Cup and the one-mile Coronation Stakes both under consideration.

“She’s a filly that, with her two-year-old career, deserves a chance at a Classic,” said Condon.

“I think she’s unfortunate with the weather. Nine years out of 10 you can depend on it being good ground or faster, but it’s in the lap of the gods unfortunately.

“We’ll see about this weekend and if not, it will be Royal Ascot as she has a few entries there.

“It’s a long season, she’s in very good form and I’m sure she’ll make up for it when she gets a chance.”

Mother Earth aiming to back up Newmarket victory in France

Mother Earth must see off a strong challenge from both the home contingent and fellow travellers as she bids for a Classic double in the Emirates Poule d’Essai des Pouliches at ParisLongchamp.

Aidan O’Brien’s 1000 Guineas heroine will seek to add the French equivalent to her expanding CV on Sunday – and her trainer anticipates that, whether she follows up on not, her performance will also provide clues to future assignments.

Among Mother Earth’s most prominent rivals this weekend are Andre Fabre’s unbeaten filly Philomene, Kildare trainer Ken Condon’s returning Group Two winner Miss Amulet and Lullaby Moon for Ralph Beckett.

Francis-Henri Graffard’s Sweet Lady is also  a major contender, having managed only a close fourth as an odds-on favourite but stayed on very well from an unpromising position over course and distance at Group Three level last month.

Aidan O'Brien and Frankie Dettori with Mother Earth at Newmarket
Aidan O’Brien and Frankie Dettori with Mother Earth at Newmarket (Mike Egerton/PA)

Mother Earth was a convincing winner at Newmarket two weeks ago, and O’Brien said: “We’re really looking forward to seeing her run again.

“Obviously she hasn’t done much since she won at Newmarket – she’s just had an easy time.

“I’m not sure yet if she’ll get further than a mile as the year goes on.

“She’s from a fast pedigree, but Frankie (Dettori, winning jockey at Newmarket) felt she might get a little bit further the last time he rode her.”

Coronavirus travel restrictions mean Christophe Soumillon takes over in Paris – while Condon has recruited Ioritz Mendizabal to partner Miss Amulet.

Miss Amulet (right) gave Alcohol Free a run for her money in the Cheveley Park
Miss Amulet (right) gave Alcohol Free a run for her money in the Cheveley Park (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

It is by design that last year’s Lowther Stakes winner begins her three-year-old campaign here, having had a busy and fruitful juvenile season which culminated in a fine third over this trip at the Breeders’ Cup.

Condon said: “She accumulated plenty of experience as a juvenile – eight runs, been abroad and obviously finished her year in the Breeders’ Cup.

“So she’s not lacking in that department. It was something I discussed with (owner’s husband) Michael Tabor, and everyone was happy to just aim for this race.

“She does like nice ground too, so I didn’t think the likelihood of nice ground in the trials in the spring was probably realistic – so we were happy to go straight there.”

Condon hopes Miss Amulet will have the necessary stamina – but admits he does not know for certain yet.

“You’d need to see more evidence, I suppose, before you could be categorical about the trip,” he said.

“But to my eyes, she ran on well and was strong going to the line (over a mile at Keeneland).”

He is confident about her readiness, adding: “She’s in very good condition.

“We’ve had an uninterrupted prep. She’s fit and looks a picture, all is well with her.

“She’s not a flamboyant worker, or anything like that, but she’s done everything we’ve wanted. She’s been on the grass with all the fillies here at the Curragh, and she won’t lack for fitness anyway.

“She’s drawn 13, which will be difficult out there. But I’ll speak with Ioritz Mendizabal and Michael, and we’ll try to formulate a plan.”

Lullaby Moon (right) in winning action at Goodwood
Lullaby Moon (right) in winning action at Goodwood (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Beckett is happy with Lullaby Moon – but will be even more pleased if the ground eases from its forecast good to soft for his filly’s first start of the year, after she concluded her two-year-old career with a Group Three win in heavy at Chantilly.

“Lullaby Moon has worked well this spring and is ready for this task,” said the Hampshire trainer.

“Every drop of rain that falls up to post time will help.”

A daughter of Dubawi, Philomene most recently won the Group Three Prix Penelope over an extended 10 furlongs at Saint-Cloud.

Lisa-Jane Graffard of Godolphin told www.godolphin.com: “Philomene is a very straightforward filly, who has enjoyed an uninterrupted preparation. Dropping her back in trip came under discussion very quickly after the Prix Penelope and Andre Fabre felt this race worked best for her timing-wise.

“She is a filly with a lot of class and Andre has very few worries about the trip. It’s obviously unusual to drop back in distance from a prep race to the Pouliches, but it has been done before and he felt that it was the right thing to do.

“This is very much a springboard for the Prix de Diane, but we are hopeful that she can run very well.”

Like Beckett, Sweet Lady’s handler would also like to see rain, as she is already twice a winner in heavy ground.

“Sweet Lady is in great shape and, the more rain there is, the happier I will be,” Graffard said.

“She ran well in the Prix de la Grotte, which was a bit of a strange race, with little pace.

“Christophe Soumillon looked after her that day. She has improved a lot for the run and looks in very good order to me. We are following the tried-and-tested route.”

Group One-winning juvenile Tiger Tanaka is likely to be running her final race before retirement – and trainer Charley Rossi knows he has huge reason to be thankful to his Prix Marcel Boussac heroine.

Tiger Tanaka won that prize over this course and distance in October, and will again be ridden by Rossi’s wife Jessica Marcialis.

He said: “We are calm. Tiger Tanaka is doing well – she showed us that she was in very good order during her work on Wednesday.

“I think this will be her last race. She has had some health issues in the past, and we want to do what is right by her.

“It is a great privilege to train such a filly. It is thanks to her that my wife, Jessica Marcialis, made racing history. Tiger Tanaka certainly has captured the imagination.”

French Guineas target for Miss Amulet

Miss Amulet will be aimed at next year’s French 1000 Guineas after her meritorious run at the Breeders’ Cup.

Ken Condon’s charge was having her eighth start of a busy campaign, in which she has won the Lowther Stakes at York and finished second in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket.

Bought for just £7,500, the daughter of Sir Prancealot changed hands halfway through the season and now runs in the colours of Michael Tabor’s wife, Doreen.

She was just denied second in the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland behind the brilliant Aunt Pearl when caught on the line by Aidan O’Brien’s Mother Earth, owned by the Coolmore partners.

“The mile was always a question mark – but to my eyes she got it well, and we were delighted with her,” said Condon.

“She’s had a busy season, but she’s retained her form well, and there is plenty to look forward to next year.

“I think her main aim early on will be the French Guineas – we think that might suit her better. I know all the Guineas are run over a mile, but some tracks are stiffer than others.

“The winner the other night (Aunt Pearl) is obviously very good – she set sensible fractions, and we knew then it would be difficult to come from behind, but we were delighted with how our filly finished off and put a bit of daylight between the fourth, who won the Prix Morny (Campanelle).

“She’s been on the go since the first week racing resumed. She’s been to England twice – that was her eighth run, so credit to her, she has exceeded all expectations.

“She’s very reliable. When you get to this time of year you never know with fillies, but she handled the travel and produced a great run.

“We know if she doesn’t stay a mile we have the option of coming back in trip, but I had a quick exchange with Michael Tabor after the race and I think the French Guineas is where we are going.”

‘Gritty’ Miss Amulet delights Condon

Ken Condon was thrilled with Miss Amulet’s effort in defeat in the Cheveley Park Stakes.

The Lowther winner, who was bought by the Tabor family before running at Newmarket, was beaten half a length into second by Alcohol Free in the Group One on Saturday.

While that was the seventh run of a busy first season, Condon will discuss with her new connections whether she will be in action again before next year.

He said: “She ran a super race, and we were very happy. She lost very little in defeat.

“I was pleased with how she finished out the race – she was really trying and ran through the line strong.”

A move up in trip appears likely, but the questions of how far and when are yet to be answered.

Condon added: “We haven’t had a chat with connections about what we do next.

“We’ll see how she is over the next few days, but she certainly warrants a step up in trip – how far she’ll stay only time will tell.

“I’m not sure if that’s it for the season. We all need to have a chat and see how she is. She’s had seven runs, and done very well, so we’ll see.

“She’s very likeable, really gritty. Going into the dip, I thought she was only going to be fourth – but when she met the rising ground she went on again.

“My riders, Billy Lee and Ryan Moore, said they think she’d definitely get seven furlongs next year – but that extra one would be a question.

“She’s still progressing I think, still doing things very nicely, so we’ll just have to see.”

Dandalla tops 12 in the hunt for Cheveley Park glory

Dandalla and Miss Amulet are two of 12 fillies in contention for the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

Karl Burke’s Dandalla is set to step up to Group One company following back-to-back Group Two wins in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Duchess of Cambridge at Newmarket.

The Ken Condon-trained Miss Amulet earned her tilt at the the top level by winning the Group Two Lowther Stakes at York last month.

Condon said: “All going well this week, she’ll be heading to Newmarket – she’s in good form and everything has gone well since the Lowther.

“We’ve all the usual checks and balances to do during the week, but providing she comes through those all OK, we’ll be looking forward to Saturday.”

Condon confirmed Ryan Moore is set to partner Miss Amulet for the first time, with the filly now running in the colours of Doreen Tabor.

She could be joined on the trip from Ireland by Fozzy Stack’s Aloha Star, Jessica Harrington’s Dickiedooda and Aidan O’Brien’s pair of More Beautiful and Mother Earth.

The home team includes Richard Hannon’s prolific filly Happy Romance, the William Haggas-trained Queen Mary, Lowther and Flying Childers runner-up Sacred and Richard Fahey’s Firth of Clyde Stakes winner Umm Kulthum.

Aidan O’Brien is responsible for six of the 11 remaining entries for the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes.

The Ballydoyle handler has confirmed Brazil, Cleveland, High Definition, Kyprios, Ontario and Van Gogh for the one-mile Group Two.

Clive Cox’s dual winner Cobh and Mark Johnston’s Acomb Stakes scorer Gear Up are two of the chief hopes from Britain.

Forty horses have stood their ground for the bet365 Cambridgeshire, with Mick Channon’s Certain Lad heading the weights ahead of William Knight’s Sir Busker and Montatham from William Haggas’ yard.

Haggas also has leading ante-post fancy Sinjaari still engaged, with Roger Charlton’s Tempus and James Tate’s Top Rank others of note.

However, Charlton has warned Tempus is not a certain runner.

He said: “I think his participation in the Cambridgeshire depends on the going.

“The ground was very quick at Newmarket at the weekend. There is rain forecast, but he won’t be running on fast ground.”