Mother Earth and Empress Josephine give O’Brien strong Coronation hand

Aidan O’Brien is in the enviable position of being able to run two 1000 Guineas winners in Mother Earth and Empress Josephine in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot on Friday.

Mother Earth was ridden by Frankie Dettori to victory at Newmarket, where Ryan Moore preferred Santa Barbara, and she subsequently went on to finish second in the French equivalent.

Empress Josephine, meanwhile, caused something of a surprise in the Irish Guineas and has been supplemented for this latest Group One assignment.

“Mother Earth is very well. We were happy with her in the Guineas (at Newmarket) and at Longchamp. We thought this race was really going to suit her,” said O’Brien.

“She’s versatile enough – fast ground or easy ground (won’t bother her).

“Empress Josephine won her maiden very well, then disappointed next time on fast ground over seven furlongs in Leopardstown – but we think it was the pace. It was too strong and she got caught in the middle of it.

“We think that was the reason. She handled very soft ground at the Curragh, but we are going to know a lot more (after this). She’s in good form and I’m looking forward to seeing her run.”

It could perhaps been seen as a tip in itself that Sir Michael Stoute has decided to run Potapova after just two wins at Chelsmford and Redcar – but she is certainly bred for the job hailing as she does from a famous Cheveley Park Stud family.

“Sir Michael has always believed she is hugely talented. I know she has only run twice, but she has impressed on both occasions,” said Cheveley’s managing director Chris Richardson.

“I think it was a 50-50 call. It’s a tall order putting her in against such proven opposition, but she has been working nicely and he felt she deserved to take her chance.

“She’s in good form and she shouldn’t mind the ground if we get the rain that is forecast.

“She’s from a family we know well, Russian Rhythm (grand-dam) won several Group Ones and Safina (dam) was placed in the Sandringham at Royal Ascot for us.

“This is the last chance to run her just against three-year-olds, and she was never going to be ready in time for a Guineas.”

Richard Hannon’s Snow Lantern has already shown her jockey Sean Levey, and trainer, great potential as she seeks to emulate her dam Sky Lantern as a Coronation Stakes winner.

Levey has won a Newbury maiden impressively on Snow Lantern, and rode her mother on the Marlborough gallops when she was in her racing prime several years ago.

“I rode Sky Lantern at home when she was around,” he said.

“Snow Lantern is a lot more forward-going, being by Frankel. Her mother was the other way around – she was inclined not to light up the gallops, whereas this filly is not shy of putting her best foot forward.

“I think me and Richard both stand together as far as thinking she’s a very good filly.”

Hannon tells the same tale, from what he has seen at home.

“It would sound arrogant to say that I doubt she’ll get beat because she’s not good enough – but if she does everything right she’s an extremely good filly,” he said.

“At York she just didn’t settle and she did everything wrong. Sean said that when she took hold of the bridle after just a furlong and a half she held her breath.

“She didn’t breathe properly through the race, and that’s why she finished so tired. But she’s done everything right at home, and also when we took her to Newbury last week for a gallop down the back straight with Mums Tipple and Ouzo.”

Alcohol Free (purple) just prevailed in the Fred Darling at Newbury
Alcohol Free (purple) just prevailed in the Fred Darling at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Andrew Balding’s 2020 Cheveley Park Stakes heroine Alcohol Free followed her successful Fred Darling return by finishing only fifth behind Mother Earth back at Newmarket for the 1000 Guineas.

Her trainer Andrew Balding said: “I think and hope that she’s better than her Guineas run.

“Things didn’t pan out for her there – she was drawn on a wing slightly and gave away a couple of lengths by lugging into space. She’s better than that.”

Sacred camp eye return to sprinting at Royal Ascot

High-class filly Sacred is likely to be dropped in distance for a tilt at the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

An impressive debut winner at Newmarket last summer, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned three-year-old went on to finish second in the Queen Mary at the Royal meeting, the Lowther Stakes at York and the Flying Childers at Doncaster.

Having successfully stepped up to seven furlongs on her return to action in the Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket in April, connections allowed the William Haggas-trained filly to return to the Rowley Mile for a tilt at Classic glory in the 1000 Guineas.

However, while she was not disgraced in finishing seventh, she is now set to return to sprint distances.

Sacred in winning action at Newmarket
Sacred in winning action at Newmarket (David Davies/PA)

Chris Richardson, Cheveley Park’s managing director, said: “That (Commonwealth Cup) is the wish at this point in time.

“We thought that she didn’t stay in the Guineas. The Commonwealth Cup is a tough race, but it’s the logical race for her.

“She was the last off the bridle at Newmarket, in fairness – she just ran out of puff.

“We think she’s come on well for the experience, and William is pleased with her, so we’ll roll the dice.”

Another exciting Cheveley Park filly in contention for the Royal meeting is Sir Michael Stoute’s Potapova.

The daughter of Invincible Spirit has made a huge impression in her two starts to date – winning by six and a half lengths at Chelmsford in November and eight lengths at Redcar this month.

Richardson confirmed a step up to Group One level for the Coronation Stakes is under serious consideration.

He added: “We haven’t made that decision yet. That is what I would favour personally, but Sir Michael is playing his cards close to his chest, so we’ll see.

“I know that he rates this filly very highly. She did take a while to come to herself last year, but obviously she has come earlier (this year) and she has plenty of potential, which we’ve already witnessed.

“We can’t commit (to the Coronation) just yet, but I’m hoping she might turn up there.

“She’s got plenty of talent and she’s one that we can bring along gradually – and I’m sure she’ll keep improving.”

Potapova makes case for Coronation Stakes honours at Redcar

Potapova was slashed to as low as 7-1 for the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot following an effortless success at Redcar.

The lucky 800 or so crowd in attendance at the Teesside venue as coronavirus restrictions continue to be lifted were witness to a very classy performer.

Racing in the famous Cheveley Park Stud colours, Potapova had won on her only previous appearance at Chelmsford in November when scooting up by over six lengths.

While victory was expected in the Fillies’ Novice Stakes, the fact she visibly went through the gears for Danny Tudhope was very impressive.

Whether Sir Michael Stoute would take the leap from a Redcar novice to a Group One remains to be seen – but she is bred to be top-class, hailing from the same family as Russian Rhythm.

“That was very impressive. Obviously she was a short price but she’s won easy, like you’d like them to do,” said Tudhope.

“First time was on the all-weather so it was nice to see her go and do it just as easy on turf today. She picked up nicely when I asked her.

“She’s very straightforward, she’s a real good mover and does everything you’d like her to do really.

“This was just a stepping stone before she goes on to what she’s likely to achieve – there are bigger things to look forward to hopefully.”

Cheveley Park’s racing manager Chris Richardson said: “We’ve always rated her, but she’s a filly that has needed time.

“I’ve not had chance to speak to Sir Michael or Mrs Thompson yet. From my point of view the Coronation is a race that will suit her, but we’ll enjoy this result first.

“She’s clearly got plenty of talent and hails from a family we’ve had a lot of success with.”

Paddy Power initially went 12-1 for the Coronation, but punters forced them to cut her again into 10s.

Their spokesman Paul Binfield said: “It was great that Sir Michael brought a lovely three-year-old filly to Redcar on the first day that crowds made a comeback.

“While we don’t know what the form will be worth, she couldn’t have done it any better and she brought herself well into the reckoning for the Coronation.”

Crowds returned at Redcar with nearly 800 in attendance
Crowds returned at Redcar with nearly 800 in attendance (Mike Egerton/PA)

Tudhope later doubled up on Miss Houdini (11-2) who got out of a tight spot in the second division of the EBF Restricted Novice Stakes.

Tudhope had to angle his mount away from where the action appeared to be unfolding to get a run and ended up closest to the far rail, but she ended up just getting home by a nose and a neck from Roman Dragon and Bungley.

The first division was won by Karl Burke’s Favourite Child (8-1) for Clifford Lee.

Chris Fairhurst enjoyed his first winner for seven months when Benadalid scored at Ripon and Sunday and like London busses made it two in two days when 100-30 favourite Lasting Legacy won the Racing TV Straight Mile Fillies’ Handicap for PJ McDonald.

Tracy Waggott’s Kind Review (7-2) was a little out of his depth at York last week but got back to winning ways in the five-furlong handicap under Tom Eaves.

“He’s a star. He missed the break at York and that was a hotter race. He’s as good on turf as the all-weather. We’ll see what the handicapper does, but he might be one for Ayr,” said Waggot.