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Abbaye aim for Mo Celita following ParisLongchamp fourth

Mo Celita remains on course for the Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp following a creditable effort in defeat there on Sunday.

Despite the ground being on the fast side and having an unfavourable wide draw, the Adrian Nicholls-trained filly stuck on well to take fourth place behind Berneuil in the Group Three Prix du Petit Couvert.

Connections will be hoping the conditions and draw will be kinder for the five-furlong feature on on October 3.

“We got back last night. She’s come out of it good. I thought she ran a blinder on ground that was probably on the quicker side for her and a draw that was on the outside and hard to win from,” said Nicholls.

“Take nothing away from the winner, who won well. He was the one with the best form of the French, but she’s done us proud again.

“I’m not saying she’d have beaten the winner but if she had a better draw, and a bit more juice in the ground, she’d have been in the first three.

“The round track was beautiful ground but the straight track was quick. They don’t water it as they don’t use it very often.

“She’s still in the Abbaye. We’ll just monitor the weather. At the moment it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of rain but that can change.

“There are a few other options – a fillies’ Listed race at Newmarket and another race in France. The main aim is to go out for there for the Abbaye and then to discuss with (owners) Mr (David) Redvers and Mr (David) Howden if she is going to stay in training or what the plans are.

“She’s still on an upward curve. I was chuffed to bits with her. She’s entitled to go for the Abbaye. She has proven that.”

Abbaye hopes as Mo Celita dream continues

Mo Celita may try to complete her remarkable rags-to-riches story with a bid for top sprinting honours in the Qatar Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp in October.

The Adrian Nicholls-trained filly is likely to first take in either the Group Three Qatar Prix du Petit Couvert at ParisLongchamp over five furlongs or the Arran Scottish Sprint EBF Fillies’ Stakes over five and a half at Ayr next month.

The three-year-old daughter of Camacho is already a Listed winner, having struck at Deauville this month.

It was only in April Mo Celita failed to attract a bid when landing a narrow success in selling company at Leicester, on her British and stable debut.

She then went on to win her next four races, as well as stepping up in class and being bought by David Redvers and David Howden.

“She’s in good form. She’s come out of her Deauville race very well. I’m very happy with her,” said Nicholls.

“There are a couple of races coming up – one in France she’s entered for, the Prix du Petit Couvert on Arc trials day. I won that when I was riding.

“There’s a race at Ayr at a similar time. She’ll get an entry for that. The long-term target at the moment is the Abbaye.”

Mo Celita has proved herself adaptable as well as classy, having won in conditions ranging from heavy to good to firm and over both five and six furlongs.

Yorkshire trainer Nicholls added: “She’s not massively ground dependent – she’s just doesn’t want it fast.

“You’re kind of edging towards France for that bit better ground. It’s usually on the soft side at Ayr as well, but we’re just playing it by ear.

“Mr Redvers and Mr Howden are looking to going to the Abbaye as the main aim if all goes to plan.

“It’s a dream come true. She’s looks to be still improving, so it’s onwards and upwards with her.”

Nicholls on a high following Listed strike from Mo Celita

Adrian Nicholls is thrilled with Mo Celita after the filly provided him with a landmark Listed success in the Prix Moonlight Cloud at Deauville on Sunday.

Ridden by Hollie Doyle, Mo Celita made all of the running in the six-furlong event and stayed on well under pressure to cross the line three-quarters of a length ahead of the runner up.

The victory is the latest step in Mo Celita’s rise from a 62-rated participant in selling races to black-type performer, a transformation that began when she joined Nicholls’ yard in April.

Beginning her career on English turf with a hat-trick of wins in sellers, the bay then won twice more after turning her hand to handicapping and ran with credit when beaten by just a length in the Palace Of Holyroodhouse Stakes at Royal Ascot.

A step up to Group Three company in the Summer Stakes at York resulted in a below-par performance, but the three-year-old was out of sorts on that occasion and proved her class at stakes level at Deauville.

The victory is a first Listed winner for Nicholls, who trains just 20 horses in North Yorkshire and has already surpassed last season’s total number of victories.

“She’s a superstar, it was unbelievable,” he said.

“We’re only a very small yard with 20 horses and that’s us into double figures (for winners this season), so to win a stakes race on Prix Maurice de Gheest day is unbelievable.

“It’s great for her connections. They bought her for that reason and they could have probably taken her to a bigger trainer, but they stayed loyal and it’s great that she’s repaid them.

“Hollie gave her a great ride, it was just a good result all round.

“That’s our first Listed winner, we came close last year but it’s hard for anybody to get the ammunition.

“It’s great that she’s come up through the ranks. She’s still progressive and she’s only run one below-par race for us at York and she wasn’t right after that when she got home.”

Mo Celita is jointly owned by David Howden and David Redvers, racing manager for Qatar Racing and owner of Tweenhills Stud, and Nicholls will consult both parties as he plans a next outing for their filly.

“The owners are very professional people and they know what they’re doing, it was the plan to go there and it all worked out – the prize-money is good in France, too,” he said.

“There are a few races back in France and there’s a race at the Ayr Western Meeting, there are a lot of options for her.

“She’s got a hell of a lot of speed so coming back to five furlongs is not an issue, so between me and Mr Redvers’ team we’re trying to chart the best course.”

Adrian Nicholls cheering on Mo Celita at Royal Ascot
Adrian Nicholls cheering on Mo Celita at Royal Ascot (Steven Paston/PA)

The Group One Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp could be a longer-term target, a race that Glass Slippers has both won and finished second in after also taking the Prix Moonlight Cloud as a three-year-old.

“I think the Prix de l’Abbaye at the end of the year might be an option because she clearly goes on very soft ground, but there’ll probably be a Listed race or a Group Three en route,” Nicholls said.

“Glass Slippers won that race she won yesterday and everyone knows what Glass Slippers went on to do. I don’t know if she can emulate her but the form of the race looks strong with the French horses – a few of them have been running in Group Ones.

“It was just great to get the Listed win for her, obviously for her breeding it’s great in that respect, so it’s onwards and upwards now.

“That was her main aim and if she can step up again, so be it, she’s been an absolute superstar for me.”

Mo Celita in top shape as Nicholls considers next step

Adrian Nicholls is on the hunt for black-type form as he plots the next move of his swiftly-improving filly Mo Celita.

The three-year-old was obtained from Willie McCreery’s yard in Kildare in April and made a winning debut for her new stable later in the month when taking a selling race at Leicester by a nose.

That victory was the first of an unbeaten five-race spell that included two further sellers and progression to a pair of class four handicaps at Haydock.

The winning streak was brought to an end in the Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes at Royal Ascot, where Mo Celita came home in fifth in a tight finish when crossing the line just a length behind the winner, Karl Burke’s Significantly.

Nicholls was pleased with the performance and will now target a race at Listed level or better for his next outing.

“She’s really well, she’s in good form,” he said.

“She’s got a couple of entries this week, she’s in at York on Friday and Saturday. She came out of Ascot very well so we’re just thinking now about where we want to go.

“She probably wasn’t drawn in the best place at Ascot but she ran a blinder, she’s got a Timeform rating of 105 now so she’s done remarkably well.

“We’ll try to get her some black type now and then just go from there for this year.”

Mo Celita is entered in both the Group Three Summer Stakes and the Listed City Walls Stakes at York at the end of the week, and also holds an entry for the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood.

“There are a lot of options so it’s just about trying to pick the best one,” Nicholls said.

“I’m not one to be afraid of one or two horses, there’s always something and someone else who fancies theirs.

“She’s still in the Stewards’ Cup, which is a massive pot for a handicap, for a small yard it’s a bit of an honour to have something to go into those races with such a good chance.”

Mo Celita is owned jointly by David Howden and David Redvers, the latter the racing manager to the Qatar Racing operation, and has made herself a firm favourite in Nicholls’ North Yorkshire stable.

“You wouldn’t know she’s in the yard,” he said.

“She’s a diamond really, she’s lovely to do and she’s a great ride.

“She’s very easy, I just wish I had a few more like her.”