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Suesa all set for Abbaye showdown

Francois Rohaut considers Suesa to be the chief French challenger in the Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

The three-year-old was unbeaten on French turf until May, taking four races including the Prix Sigy and the Prix Texanita – both Group Three events.

Her unbeaten run was ended at Royal Ascot in June when she was eighth in the Commonwealth Cup, but she bounced back to take the Group Two King George Stakes at Goodwood in late July.

A run in the Nunthorpe Stakes then produced a fourth-placed finish as the filly was drawn wide and eventually came home two and a half lengths behind Winter Power.

“She looks great, she’s very happy and quiet and everything’s perfect,” Rohaut told Sky Sports Racing.

“She came out (of York) well, we’ll just forget that race as she had a bad draw.

“We’ll just forget it, she is as well as she was before Goodwood.

“I am very happy with her – she looks much better and much stronger, she is improving I think.

“She’s probably the best French contender, I don’t really focus on who is going to run and who will like the ground, she will run her best.”

The going at Longchamp is currently described as a mixture of good and good to soft and more rain is due to fall, but Rohaut is not concerned about conditions as his runner is a proven performer on heavier ground.

“She won three times on very soft going, so I’m not worried about the ground, if the rain does come it could be even better for her,” he said.

Suesa and jockey William Buick
Suesa and jockey William Buick (John Walton/PA)

Though this weekend’s race will be Suesa’s last of the season, Rohaut is already looking forward to beginning her next campaign at Royal Ascot in June.

“I think we’ll keep her next season and in that case her first target is probably the King’s Stand,” he said.

“She’s as good over both (five and six furlongs), she won’t stay six furlongs at Ascot because they’re going uphill, but on a flat track she can stay six furlongs.”

Suesa is one of 17 still in contention for the Abbaye, with British hopes including Sprint Cup winner Emaraaty Ana and Glass Slippers from Kevin Ryan’s yard, Tim Easterby’s Nunthorpe victor Winter Power, Karl Burke’s pair of Dandalla and Lady In France, plus the Adrian Nicholls-trained Mo Celita.

Adrian Nicholls' Prix de l'Abbaye hope Mo Celita
Adrian Nicholls’ Prix de l’Abbaye hope Mo Celita (Tim Goode/PA)

Andre Fabre’s Raclette – a filly he rates as one of the best he has trained – is among 10 contenders for the Prix Marcel Boussac.

Aidan O’Brien will be without a runner in the race after his entrant, Galileo filly History, was found to be lame and is therefore due to be withdrawn.

“The plan was that she would run, but she didn’t pull out 100 per cent sound so she won’t run,” the trainer said.

“I shouldn’t think we’ll have another runner in the race.”

Oscula, who finished third in last week’s Rockfel Stakes, has been left in both the Boussac and the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere by trainer George Boughey.

She is one of three fillies in that seven-furlong heat which is headlined by Phoenix Stakes winner Ebro River for Hugo Palmer.

A total of 15 fillies and mares are in the mix for the Prix de l’Opera, including last year’s third Audarya for James Fanshawe and O’Brien’s French Oaks winner Joan Of Arc.

Space Blues is a short-priced favourite for the Prix de la Foret over seven furlongs with other familiar names including Kinross, Thunder Moon and Pearls Galore.

Suesa aiming for Prix de l’Abbaye

Suesa is set for another bid at Group One glory as she is aimed at the Prix de l’Abbaye in October.

The filly, who is trained in Sauvagnon by Francois Rohaut, won the Group Two King George Stakes at Goodwood in July by an impressive three lengths.

A step up in grade followed at York, where the three-year-old finished fourth in the Nunthorpe Stakes, two and a half lengths behind Tim Easterby’s Winter Power.

Starting as the 9-4 favourite, the bay was drawn wide and found herself galloping alone near the outside rail as the race developed.

Winter Power had surged clear of the field by the time she hit the final furlong, but Suesa was gaining ground and accelerated from the rear of the pack to fourth place in the closing strides of the race.

Connections felt the draw was a hinderance to her chances and are now aiming for another Group One outing as the Abbaye is pencilled in for Paris on Arc day, October 3.

“She, all being well, will run in the Prix de l’Abbaye,” said James Wigan, racing manager to owner George Strawbridge.

“I think that she ran a very good race, she was probably on the wrong side of the course.

Suesa was brilliant in her Goodwood victory
Suesa was brilliant in her Goodwood victory (John Walton/PA)

“All the speed was on the other side and she had to race on her own, but she was making up ground.

“I think had she been on the other side she’d have been very close.”

Suesa and Golden Pal headline Nunthorpe confirmations

French speedster Suesa and American ace Golden Pal head 17 six-day confirmations for the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes at York on Friday.

The Wesley Ward-trained Golden Pal impressed when making all on his seasonal debut at Saratoga last month, while Francois Rohaut’s Suesa was a convincing winner of the King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood.

Dragon Symbol, who was runner-up that day, has been left in by Archie Watson. Others in the mix include Tim Easterby’s dual course and distance winner Winter Power, David Evans’ Rohaan, and Robert Cowell’s Arecibo, who was second in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

There are also two juveniles in the list – Kevin Ryan’s Boonie and Eve Johnson Houghton’s Windsor Castle scorer Chipotle.

Legendary stayer Stradivarius headlines 12 possibles for the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup.

The seven-year-old took this Group Two prize in 2018 and 2019 and will be trying to get back on track after only finishing fourth in his attempt to win a fourth Gold Cup in a row at Royal Ascot.

Opposition could include Goodwood Cup winner Trueshan for Alan King, the Andrew Balding-trained Spanish Mission, Roger Varian’s Fujaira Prince and Tony Mullins’ Group One-winning mare Princess Zoe.

The six-year-old chased home Subjectivist in the Ascot Gold Cup and was in action on Friday when runner-up to Twilight Payment in the Irish St Leger Trial at the Curragh.

Berkshire Shadow is among 14 remaining in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes.

Andrew Balding’s Coventry Stakes victor drops back to six furlongs after finishing second in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.

Richard Hannon has three smart types in July Stakes scorer Lusail, Molecomb winner Armor and Richmond runner-up Gubbass.

Michael O’Callaghan’s Twilight Jet is the sole Irish acceptor.

Suesa and Golden Pal heading for Nunthorpe showdown

French filly Suesa and American speedball Golden Pal are set for a mouthwatering clash in the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes at York on Friday week.

Francois Rohaut’s Suesa looked every inch a top-class sprinter in the making after landing successive Group Three prize at Chantilly in the spring, but disappointed when favourite for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

However, she put that effort behind her with a thoroughly impressive display in the King George Stakes at Goodwood last month – a performance which delighted her trainer.

Rohaut said: “It was fantastic. We didn’t expect such a nice win.

“She showed that day that she’s a top-class filly. The going was perfect for her – and the strong pace.”

Suesa is currently completing her preparations for the £400,000 Nunthorpe in Deauville before crossing the Channel.

“The filly is OK, so the plan is to come (to York). It’s very exciting and we are very happy to be in this race,” Rohaut added.

Suesa returns to the Goodwood winner's enclosure under William Buick
Suesa returns to the Goodwood winner’s enclosure under William Buick (John Walton/PA)

“She had a good canter on Tuesday in Deauville where she’s staying. Everything is OK. I am very happy with her.

“I walked her (on Wednesday afternoon) and she was jumping everywhere and was very fresh and happy to be in Deauville.

“I hope she’ll be happy to go and to be in York.”

Suesa disputes favouritism with Wesley Ward’s Golden Pal, who made a successful start to his campaign in a Grade Three at Saratoga in July.

The three-year-old is due to arrive in York on Friday, and Ward hopes he can provide him with a first Nunthorpe success, having previously saddled both Acapulco and Lady Aurelia to finish second in the prestigious contest.

Of Golden Pal, Ward – who plans to fly in for the race – said: “He’s bigger, stronger, faster. I think we’re in good shape.

“He breezed on the grass at Keeneland (on Wednesday) – a really nice workout, a final piece of fast work.

“We’re ready to go. Everything’s going to plan.

“This time we’re hoping to get lucky!”

Speed queen Suesa takes her place among the sprinting elite

The five-furlong sprint division is the 100 metres of the racing world, speed is the one and only currency accepted in races like the King George Qatar Stakes.

That need for speed produces a certain type of horse – a strapping, powerful sort capable of blistering pace for a brief minute or so.

Suesa does not possess that muscular build one might associate with a sprinter. She is small, pony-like and light-framed with an unusual speckled white marking on her neck.

In France she was infallible, triumphing in all four of her runs on Chantilly turf in a winning streak that began with maiden and then expanded to include a Listed contest and two Group Three races.

A trip overseas to take on the Group One Commonwealth Cup followed, but the torrential rain at Ascot scuppered that plan as the going was left heavy, too heavy even for a filly with form on sodden French ground.

William Buick took the ride that day and wisely took great care of his mount, easing her home in the driving rain at the Royal meeting when it became clear that a placing was not within reach.

Suesa had been saved for another day, and although Goodwood could offer weather only marginally better than inclement Ascot, the sharp wind had significantly dried the track and this time there was no blunting her turn of foot.

Pitched against Dragon Symbol, who had the beating of her in the Coronation Cup, and the beloved Battaash, Suesa was once again set quite the task having travelled from Francois Rohaut’s Sauvagnon stable.

Tucked away at the rear of the field, Buick kept his mount poised for a late attack and as the furlong pole approached and her rivals fell behind, the three-year-old cruised through to take up the lead.

Battaash, Glass Slippers and Dragon Symbol all tried tried to stay with her, but she was travelling in another gear by the time the winning post loomed and eventually crossed the line three lengths ahead of the latter.

This was the real Suesa, seen to best effect on soft but not bottomless ground, undeterred by the colts in the line-up and the experience of her rivals.

“She’s quite strong to sit on, she’s all there,” Buick said when the slight build of the 7-1 winner was mentioned.

“She moves like a sprinter and you can see she’s a really cool customer.

“She was hard on the bridle the whole way and then she has that kick at the finish, today was brilliant conditions for her and Mr Rohaut was adamant that she was in good shape. It was an amazing performance.

“She’s an absolute sweetheart, I rode her in the Commonwealth at Ascot but it was on the Friday so the ground was very bad.

“I learnt a lot from her that day, she’s full of speed and she came back to five (furlongs) today and she travelled through the race so smoothly.

“It’s great to get the ride, she’s very good filly.”

Suesa was far too good for a host of star names
Suesa was far too good for a host of star names (John Walton/PA)

It was not the result the Goodwood crowd would have hoped for, of course, with Battaash only seventh as he made his bid for an astonishing fifth victory in the race.

He normally goes from the Sussex Downs on to the Nunthorpe at York – but that journey is now in doubt, as it looks like he will head for the most well-deserved of retirements.

Instead it is Suesa who could be the star on the Knavesmire – or even in the Abbaye on Arc day, another familiar haunt of Battaash.

James Wigan, racing manager to American owner George Strawbridge, said: “As for a run at York, it depends what she is like when she gets back. She’ll have had quite a lot of travelling, coming here and then going back, then coming again having already done Ascot. The Abbaye will be the obvious target.

“There is a very good chance she will stay in training next year as the owner is very much a sportsman.”

Suesa swamps Battaash and company

Goodwood favourite Battaash was unable to record a fifth successive victory in the King George Qatar Stakes as Suesa claimed top honours for France.

The Charlie Hills-trained Battaash had made the Group Two contest his own in the recent seasons and was the 2-1 favourite to add to his tally off the back of finishing fourth on his belated reappearance when defending his crown in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot.

The seven-year-old travelled strongly for much of the five-furlong journey under regular partner Jim Crowley, but his finishing effort was ultimately short lived and he weakened late on to finish a well-beaten seventh.

Having won her first four races in her homeland, Francois Rohaut’s Suesa was the market leader for the Commonwealth Cup at the Royal meeting last month, but could finish only eighth.

But the 7-1 shot bounced right back to form on the Sussex Downs, rocketing home from the rear in the hands of William Buick to score by three lengths.

Dragon Symbol was best of the rest, again having to make do with minor honours after being demoted to the runner-up spot in the Commonwealth Cup and finishing second in the July Cup at Newmarket.

James Wigan, racing manager for Suesa’s owner, George Strawbridge, said: “We thought she was very good before Ascot, and then the rain came and the ground was bottomless.

Suesa earns a well-deserved pat from William Buick
Suesa earns a well-deserved pat from William Buick (John Walton/PA)

“She just couldn’t act on it, luckily we took her home and she was OK.

“Her form in France before was very impressive, but we didn’t know what she’d be like over here.

“There aren’t really many deep races, sprint Group races, in France in the summer, so this was the obvious place to come.”

Looking to future plans, Wigan said: “As for a run at York (in the Nunthorpe), it depends what she is like when she gets back. She’ll have had quite a lot of travelling, coming here and then going back, then coming again having already done Ascot. The Abbaye will be the obvious target.

“There is a very good chance she will stay in training next year as the owner is very much a sportsman.”

Buick was thoroughly impressed with Suesa.

He said: “She’s an absolute sweetheart. I rode her in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, but the ground was very bad and I learned a lot from her that day.

“She’s full of speed and was coming back to five (furlongs) today and she travelled through the race so smoothly, she was hard on the bridle the whole way and she has that good kick at the finish.

“Today was perfect conditions for her, Mr Rohaut was adamant she was in good shape and I spoke to Olivier Peslier about her as well who told me a thing or two about her.

“It was great to get the ride and she’s a very good filly.”

Oisin Murphy was aboard the Archie Watson-trained runner-up: “Dragon Symbol is better than that. It’s a shame the good ones weren’t drawn beside him, we followed the wrong ones.”

Kevin Ryan said of third home Glass Slippers, who making her seasonal reappearance after winning at the Breeders’ Cup: “I am absolutely delighted.

“She came there travelling very strongly. We would like to have got a racecourse gallop into her, but the ground has been so firm everywhere. We didn’t want to risk doing that. We knew coming here she was going to need the run. We can look forward to the rest of the year now.

“We will have a chat over the weekend, but we will generally take the same sort of route, the race in Ireland (Flying Five Stakes, Group One) I would imagine will be on the agenda. It will be a nice chat to have on Sunday morning.”

Flying filly Campanelle in good shape for Royal Ascot repeat

Wesley Ward is anticipating a big run from Campanelle as she bids for back-to-back Royal Ascot victories, this time in the Commonwealth Cup.

The three-year-old was triumphant in the Queen Mary Stakes last season and followed that up with a Group One win in the Prix Morny at Deauville.

A bruised heel has prevented Ward from running the bay this season, but the trainer is not concerned by her interrupted preparation and is backing the filly to perform on her first run of the campaign.

“She’s working fantastic,” he said.

“Frankie (Dettori) sat on her the other day and he was happy – once Frankie is happy, I’m happy.”

Campanelle and Frankie Dettori winning the Queen Mary Stakes
Campanelle and Frankie Dettori winning the Queen Mary Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“We gave her a little time to get those heels back in order and every work she has done since has shown that she belongs in this race, Frankie worked her last Sunday and was all smiles when he got off her.

“The fact she has not had a prep race is no issue at all for me, my sprinters generally come off the bench fresh and fire first time out.

“Everything about this race looks real suitable for her.

“We know she likes the track and the distance, and even if the bit of rain materialises she won’t mind it.”

Representing French trainer Francois Rohaut is the unbeaten filly Suesa, who has a perfect record of four victories from four runs at Chantilly.

That form culminated in two comfortable Group Three wins in both the Prix Sigy and the Prix Texanita, with the three-year-old steered to success by Oliver Peslier on both occasions.

Complications caused by Covid-19 mean that Peslier has been forced to hand the Ascot ride to William Buick, who will take to the saddle to guide Suesa through her first run on English turf.

“This has always been the plan for her and everything has gone fine so far, she hasn’t done much wrong,” said James Wigan, racing manager to owner George Strawbridge.

“She’s won on heavy going, but her last win was on better ground and Olivier felt that she appreciated it.”

Clive Cox is set to saddle just Isabella Giles, after heavy overnight rain turned the ground soft and resulted in the absences of Diligent Harry and Supremacy.

The Lambourn trainer made it clear conditions will suit his remaining contender when he assessed her chances before the rain arrived.

“Isabella Giles would need easier ground,” he said.

“But as it’s such an important race and there’s a threat of thunderstorms, we’ve just left her in there as an insurance.”

Eve Johnson Houghton has a chance in the shape of Group-level debutant Jumby, who was last seen winning a competitive six-furlong handicap at Newmarket in May.

“I’m thrilled with him,” she said.

Jumby could give Eve Johnson Houghton a second winner of the week
Jumby could give Eve Johnson Houghton a second winner of the week (Mark Cranham/PA)

“He’s a really good horse and hopefully he knows enough, he won really well at Newmarket and the form is working out well so fingers crossed.”

Elsewhere on the Friday card, Alenquer heads the market for the Group Two King Edward Stakes after his victory in bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown.

The colt beat subsequent Derby hero Adayar during that performance, with Godolphin stablemate Yibir, who reopposes, finishing third before his losing efforts in the Listed Dee Stakes and Cocked Hat Stakes.

“If you are Stuart Williams you say ‘Yibir got stuffed, that race was no good’ but if you are Michael Bell you say ‘he beat the Derby winner, he must be a certainty’ – it just depends what angle you take!” Haggas said.

“He’s a nice horse and he’s done well, he had a little issue before the Dante which meant he couldn’t run, but he’s done well since then.

Alenquer is an intriguing runner in the King Edward
Alenquer is an intriguing runner in the King Edward (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He’s in good shape, he won’t mind what the ground is and I think he wants the trip – not just that he’ll get it – I think he wants it.

“He’s got a chance but it will be competitive.”

Roger Varian’s Title takes hi chance after his Yarmouth win in late May and Mark Johnston’s Gear Up looks to bounce back to form after finishing down the field in the Dante and the Derby.

There is further Group action in the Group Three Albany Stakes, run over six furlongs for two-year-old fillies.

Richard Hannon’s Sows carries high hopes after winning on her debut in a five-furlong maiden contest at Nottingham.

“She won at Nottingham in very good time,” Hannon said via his Unibet blog.

Sows could be a filly of some potential
Sows could be a filly of some potential (Tim Goode/PA)

“She is a very nice filly, who would have needed the run at Nottingham. She will have improved, but she will need to have done.

“We have always liked her a lot and then she just went through a quiet spell, two weeks before we did run her she showed signs she was coming back and she could be a very nice filly.”

Simon and Ed Crisford’s Flotus is well-fancied after her taking victory on debut at Goodwood, with Ralph Beckett’s Hello You another sure to be popular after looking equally impressive on her first career run at Wolverhampton.

Suesa on course for Commonwealth Cup date

Unbeaten French sprinter Suesa will head to Royal Ascot in search of Group One glory.

The George Strawbridge-owned three-year-old has a perfect record of four runs and four victories, all at Chantilly.

After winning on her track debut in October last year, the filly took the Listed Prix Yacowlef before she was bought by American owner Strawbridge.

Strawbridge transferred the bay from the base of Carlos Laffon-Parias into the care of Francois Rohaut, and Suesa struck on her first run for her new handler with an easy triumph in the Group Three Prix Sigy, after which she enjoyed another comfortable victory at the same level when winning the Prix Texanita by three lengths.

Royal Ascot now beckons for the daughter of Night Of Thunder, with the Commonwealth Cup on June 18 set to be her first run away from Chantilly.

“She won them very easily,” said James Wigan, racing manager to Strawbridge, of the filly’s successes thus far.

“I don’t know what she beat, but she couldn’t have done it more easily.”

Suesa is currently a 9-2 chance for the Commonwealth Cup, a price that leaves her second-favourite behind only Wesley Ward’s Campanelle.

The presence of Ward’s American runner confirms the race is set to attract high-calibre six-furlong three-year-olds from across the world, and Suesa’s connections are expecting to learn more about her class when she is pitched against them.

“It’s difficult to know because she hasn’t taken them on, the best Irish or British sprinters,” Wigan said.

“But she’s shown herself to be better than what’s available in France.”

Indigo Girl had high-class form as a juvenile last year
Indigo Girl had high-class form as a juvenile last year (David Davies/PA)

Strawbridge also owns the John and Thady Gosden-trained Indigo Girl, who was last seen finishing second in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October.

That performance followed two victories, one on debut and one in the Group Two May Hill Stakes, but the daughter of Dubawi is yet to take to the track this season.

A tilt at Newmarket’s Pretty Polly Stakes was suggested as an alternative to the 1000 Guineas, but she did not run in either contest and may head to Chantilly for the Prix de Diane, the French equivalent to the Oaks, instead.

“Her original target was the Prix de Diane,” Wigan said.

“I think that’s probably still the target, unless he (John Gosden) has changed his mind.”