Parent’s Prayer records smooth Princess Elizabeth victory

Parent’s Prayer led her rivals a merry dance in the Cazoo-sponsored Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom.

A dual winner during her debut season as a three-year-old last term, Archie Watson’s filly had run two sound races in defeat so far this year – finishing second in the Park Express Stakes in Ireland and fourth in the Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes at Lingfield.

Ridden by champion jockey Oisin Murphy for the first time, the daughter of Kingman was sent straight to the lead and appeared to have matters under control throughout.

If anything the 4-1 winner extended her lead racing inside the final two furlongs and passed the post with just over two lengths in hand over Nazuna, with 7-4 favourite Statement only third.

Murphy said: “She’s a lovely filly – a great, athletic type. She handled the track really well.

“Her owner is watching at home in Saudi Arabia and he will be over the moon. He jumped in the Olympics in 2012 in London and he knows horses very well, so I’m pleased he’s got a top-class filly.

“We weren’t absolutely sure as to how we were going to ride her – it was an open plan. But she jumped very well and she was very relaxed going to post, so once she pricked her ears in the race and was in a good rhythm, she was always going to run well.”

Watson said: “She is a strong-travelling filly and I always felt she would handle the track.

“Both Oisin and I were keen to go forwards with her and let her get into a rhythm and it has worked out well. I’d say the rain they had yesterday has helped a bit as well, as she has done most of her winning on heavy ground – but saying that she seems quite versatile and I would have no issues on quicker ground.

“She is a Listed winner and she is dual Group Three-placed and is now a Group Three winner – she is now a very valuable filly. It was very important to get a win into her first, then a stakes win and then this Group win. It makes my life a little easier as a trainer as we can now run her in the top races.

“I think we will stay at a mile for now though I do think she would get further under the right circumstances, but there is such a good fillies’ programme over a mile that I don’t think we need to look beyond that at the moment.

“I know it is only 10 days or so to Royal Ascot, but the Duke of Cambridge would be the first option and then on to the Falmouth at Newmarket. If she misses Ascot we would go straight to the Falmouth.

“Later on in the season we can then look at races like the Sun Chariot, Matron and other races in France.”

Parent’s Prayer travels in hope again

Parent’s Prayer bids to continue her lucrative visits to Ireland when she travels over again for the Lodge Park Stud Irish EBF Park Express Stakes at Naas.

The Archie Watson-trained filly makes her third successive trip across the Irish Sea from Upper Lambourn, having taken a Listed race and finished third in a Group Three contest.

It is at the higher level she competes again on Sunday as she begins a four-year-old campaign which Watson is hoping could be profitable.

“She won a Listed race nicely there at the back end last year. She showed she went well on heavy ground,” he said.

“I’m not sure how wet it’s been there – in terms of if it’s going to be wet, heavy or gluey and tacky – but it looks a very open race, and hopefully a good opportunity for her to win a Group race.

“There’s a good programme throughout the year for these four-year-old-plus, mile-to-10-furlong fillies. Hopefully it can be a nice starting point. She’s wintered very well. I’m been very happy with her home work, and she’s ready to go.”

Her rivals are headed by the Willie McCreery-trained Epona Plays, who landed a Group Three prize at Gowran in September.

Of the three-year-olds in the eight-runner field, Dermot Weld’s Eylara is a promising type – with a win and a second from her two starts, both in maiden company – while the Paddy Twomey-trained Fantasy Lady took a Listed contest at the Curragh on the last of her three outings as a juvenile.

Ado McGuinness has a couple of concerns about Salstonstall in the Listed Plusvital Devoy Stakes.

The seven-year-old has a 3lb penalty for winning at this level over a mile on this course in November, and the County Lusk trainer is also worried about the extra two furlongs Salstonsall has to run this time.

However, the Pivotal gelding did not fare too badly over a longer trip last time when fourth to True Self in a very valuable race in Saudi Arabia.

McGuinness reports his charge to have taken his travels well.

“He’s great. He’s travelled well really well and he’s in very good form,” he said.

“He has a penalty to carry, so he has it all to do on Sunday. He has to improve again. He’s up against good horses and has to give them weight, because of the penalty he has for winning his Listed race last year.

“He’ll like the ground, but the trip is a little concern. I think he’s better over a mile in those conditions. We’ll be playing our cards late with him.”

King Of Comedy has his first run for Jessica Harrington, having left John Gosden’s stable.

The five-year-old entire has some very smart form, notably when runner-up to Circus Maximus in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2019.

Aidan O’Brien saddles Broome – who was a close fourth in the 2019 Derby behind stablemate Anthony Van Dyck – while his son Joseph has Numerian, a Listed winner and Group placed, among the 12 runners.