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Zain Claudette edges thriller in Princess Margaret

Zain Claudette just got the better of Desert Dreamer in a thrilling finish to the Princess Margaret Keeneland Stakes at Ascot.

Sent off a 15-2 chance for trainer Ismail Mohammed and jockey Ray Dawson, Zain Claudette cost just £20,000 as a yearling last September, but she has more than repaid that modest price tag with Group Three glory.

Crazyland raced keenly through the early exchanges, with Nazanin also happy to be on the front end as the eventual major players took up waiting positions further back in the 10-runner field.

It looked as though Oisin Murphy had timed his challenge to perfection in delivering 9-4 favourite Desert Dreamer on the far side of the track in the last of the six furlongs, but Dawson had other ideas on Zain Claudette.

She was flying on the near side of the track, with the pair neck and neck in the shadow of the post – and Zain Claudette edging it by a nose in a photo.

Delmona raced between the duo, eventually finishing a further neck down in third.

Zain Claudette (right) and Desert Dreamer were split across the Ascot track
Zain Claudette (right) and Desert Dreamer were split across the Ascot track (Nigel French/PA)

Mohammed said: “She’s a lovely filly and is doing very well. She worked very well last week.

“With each of her runs, she is improving. She’s had three runs, a second and two wins.

“We’re planning to go for some big races with her now – she’s already won a Group Three, so we’ll be looking higher than that.”

Desert Dreamer aiming to deliver in Ascot assignment

Stuart Williams’ Desert Dreamer will bid to return to winning ways in the Group Three Princess Margaret Keeneland Stakes at Ascot.

The two-year-old began her career with successive victories at Newmarket before making the step up to Group Two level in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, where she finished 10th of 21 runners.

Two trips to the July course at Newmarket then followed, where she finished just a neck behind System in the Listed Empress Fillies’ Stakes and was then the runner-up again when losing out to Sandrine in the Group Two Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes.

“We were very happy with her run in the Duchess Of Cambridge,” said Newmarket trainer Williams.

“She seems to have come out of the race really well, so we’re looking forward to running her on Saturday.

“She’s very tough and she takes her racing really well.

“I don’t think she’s ground dependent really. She obviously goes on fast ground, but she won on good ground earlier in the year so I wouldn’t mind it if it were good or even good to soft – it wouldn’t bother her at all.”

Karl Burke’s Attagirl also lines up after a convincing four-length victory in a Haydock maiden this month.

Her trainer expects further improvement.

“I think a lot of her,” said Burke.

“She’s a lovely filly, and I’m looking forward to seeing her run – she seems in great shape.

“She was impressive (at Haydock), and we think she can improve on that, so we’re very much looking forward to it.”

El Hadeeyah represents James Tate’s yard and will again cross paths with Desert Dreamer, who beat her into third when the two made their racecourse debuts in a Newmarket maiden in April.

She suffered two more defeats in May, but claimed her first victory on the all-weather track at Lingfield.

“She’s a filly we’ve always liked,” said Tate.

“She showed a lot of promise on her first run at Newmarket when she was third behind Desert Dreamer.

“Then she got lost a little bit on her next two starts, when the ground was softer than ideal, but she was back to form on the fast Polytrack at Lingfield last time.

“We thought we’d go black-type hunting in this race – six furlongs will suit her well if they don’t get too much rain.

“Fast ground should suit, and we’re hopeful for a good run.”

Richard Hannon’s System is well fancied, having beaten Desert Dreamer in the Empress Stakes, with Archie Watson’s Nazanin bringing a victory on her sole start at Newbury to the table.

Tom Dascombe’s Delmona is also engaged after her third place in the Super Sprint at Newbury last week.

Clive Cox’s Crazyland, Ismail Mohammed’s Zain Claudette, Rebecca Menzies’ winning Doncaster debutante Miss Calculation and George Boughey’s Sassy Rascal complete the field of 11.